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After late-year rout, U.S. leveraged loan rebounds, with par-plus names booming

The gains in the U.S. leveraged loan market so far this year have finally translated into a spike higher in the number of loans bid at par or above in the S&P/LSTA Leveraged Loan Index, as this statistic had remained stubbornly low in 2019 despite a quick snap-back earlier in the year.

The share of loans in the Index bid at par or above was 23% (as of April 23), compared to just 2.8% at the end of March, and a measly 0.3% at the end of 2018, according to the S&P/LSTA Loan Index. This figure had been as high as 65% as recently as October 2018, but then endured a precipitous drop that began late that month.

Naturally, the portion of the loans bid at or above par took longer to materialize than the initial snap-back of the secondary, in the wake of the market rout at the end of 2018. In January, the average bid of the S&P/LSTA Leveraged Loan Index increased 205 bps, to 95.89, but the percentage of loans bid at par or above barely budged at 1.10%, versus 0.30% at the end of 2018.

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