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Bank Stress Prompts Concerns, Office Attendance Edges Higher

Bank Stress Prompts Concerns, Office Attendance Edges Higher

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CoStar News

Bank Stress Prompts Concerns

Analysts view continued stress on reginal banks as a key concern for U.S. financial stability, as they also keep a close watch on commercial real estate values, according to a survey report this week from the Federal Reserve.

The Fed’s twice-annual report, querying economists, academics, investment brokers and other professionals on the state of the financial system, said regulatory actions have so far stabilized the banking industry following the collapse of three regional banks in the past two months. However, there are still concerns about deposit outflows as banks and other financial institutions face pressure from rising interest rates and high inflation.

“Actions taken by the official sector reassured depositors, and the broad banking system remained sound and resilient,” the Federal Reserve said in its report. “For the banking system as a whole, aggregate bank capital levels were ample.”

The Fed said leverage remains generally low for household and business debt, and most types of commercial real estate investment. Still, respondents raised concerns about risks posed by office real estate in particular, with buildings across the country seeing large blocks of vacant space.

The report said the magnitude of a correction in property values “could be sizable and therefore lead to credit losses” for holders of commercial real estate debt. The past year’s sharp jump in borrowing costs may increase the risk of commercial mortgage borrowers being unable to refinance loans as they come due, the Fed said.

Survey respondents also said they are watching closely for the effects of current market pressures on money market funds, hedge funds and cryptocurrencies. More than half, 56% of respondents, cited U.S.-China tensions as a potential risk to the U.S. financial system, with 52% viewing the Russia-Ukraine war as a similar risk.

Office Attendance Edges Higher

U.S. office attendance posted its third consecutive incremental rise for the week that ended May 3, with 10 tracked regions averaging 49.9% of pre-pandemic attendance, security technology firm Kastle Systems reported.

The firm’s “Back to Work Barometer” is based on anonymous keycard data from clients’ office properties, where attendance on average has remained stubbornly below 50% for most weeks since March 2020.

The 10-city average last rose above 50% in the week that ended March 8, when office use reached 50.1%, and the average has yet to beat the peak of 50.4% posted for the week that ended Jan. 25.

Four cities have recently maintained consistent levels above 50%, led in the latest tracking by Austin, Texas, at 63.1%, Houston at 61.8%, Dallas at 53.8% and Chicago at 50.8%. Los Angeles dipped to 49.4% in the latest barometer report, after reaching a pandemic peak of 50.4% in the prior week.

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