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Credit-Market Fear Gauge Soars as Oil Plunge Triggers Rout

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U.S. Stocks Join Global Rout, What's Next?

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The cost to protect against defaults by North American companies soared to a three-year high Friday as concerns over a deepening plunge in oil prices triggered a global rout in equities.

The risk premium on the Markit CDX North American High Yield Index, a credit-default swaps benchmark tied to the debt of 100 speculative-grade companies, jumped 30.8 basis points to 557.7 basis point at 1:30 p.m. in New York, the highest since November 2012. A similar measure for investment-grade debt rose 6.5 basis points to 110.5 basis points, a three-year high.