Credit-Default Swaps in U.S. Rise for First Time in Five Days

A benchmark gauge of U.S. corporate credit risk increased for the first time in five days as a measure of business activity in the nation slowed and as Spain entered its second recession since 2009.

The Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index, a credit-default swaps benchmark that investors use to hedge against losses on corporate debt or to speculate on creditworthiness, added 0.6 basis point to a mid-price of 94.9 basis points at 5:09 p.m. in New York, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. The gauge, which reached a three-month high of 104.3 on April 10, had dropped for four straight days.

The swaps index rose as a government report showed Spain’s gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent in the first quarter, fueling concern Europe’s debt crisis may damage the global financial system. A separate report showed business activity in the U.S. expanded at the slowest pace since the end of 2009.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its barometer decreased to 56.2 during April, lower than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, from 62.2 in March. Readings greater than 50 signal growth.

Credit-default swaps typically rise as investor confidence deteriorates and fall as it improves. The contracts pay the buyer face value if a borrower fails to meet its obligations, less the value of the defaulted debt. A basis point equals $1,000 annually on a contract protecting $10 million of debt.

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