Credit default-swap trading on South Korea jumped last week on the back of heightened concerns about North Korea's nuclear policy highlighted by a change of outlook to negative from positive by Moody's Investors Service. "Trading has been three to four times normal volume," said one credit derivatives head, commenting on Korean default-swap protection. He added, "It's likely that some banks are getting nervous," noting that end users have been purchasing credit protection on the sovereign.
Sonia Lee, v.p. and Asian credit trader at Credit Lyonnais in Hong Kong, said spreads have moved out from a mid market level of 100 basis points to 130bps early last week. Traders said Korea traded over 10 times in the week whereas it typically trades two-to-three times per week. "There's been much more participation," said Lee. Typical trading size is USD5 million.
Last Monday Moody's shifted its outlook on the long-term rating of South Korea from positive to negative, citing security concerns stemming from North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The country's rating currently stands at A3.