Trading halted in shares of two more US lenders as fears of banking crisis mount | Banking

Trading in the shares of two more regional US lenders was temporarily suspended on Thursday amid a widening crisis for the country’s mid-sized banks.

Regulators stepped in to halt trading in the Los Angeles-based PacWest and Arizona’s Western Alliance following dramatic drops in their share prices.

It came after another mid-sized bank, First Republic, was sold to JP Morgan earlier this week. Depositors had pulled $100bn from First Republic, fearing their money was no longer safe.

PacWest had sought to calm markets on Wednesday and said it was in talks with several potential investors after its shares fell by as much as 60%. But the sell-off continued on Thursday and affected other regional banks.

Shares in PacWest fell 50% on Thursday after Bloomberg News reported that the lender was considering strategic options, including a sale or a fundraising round.

The bank sought to reassure investors by saying it had not experienced unusual deposit flows. “Recently, the company has been approached by several potential partners and investors – discussions are ongoing,” it added.

Western Alliance’s share price plummeted 45% after the Financial Times reported it was exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, which the bank strongly denied. It called the story “absolutely false” and said it had not experienced unusual deposit flows after the sale of First Republic. Its shares ended Thursday down 38%

First Republic was the third US bank failure to be swept up in the crisis, the worst since 2008, after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature in March.

Bill Ackman, chief executive of the New York hedge fund Pershing Square, warned that the entire US regional banking system was at risk. In a tweet before PacWest’s statement, he wrote: “Confidence in a financial institution is built over decades and destroyed in days. As each domino falls, the next weakest bank begins to wobble.

“We are running out of time to fix this problem. How many more unnecessary bank failures do we need to watch before the FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance corporation], and our government wake up? We need a systemwide deposit guarantee regime now.”

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“The president will cover it no matter what,” Lee said. “They don’t want to see other banks fail or people start withdrawing money.”

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