The European Central Bank began its official transition to a new benchmark short-term interest rate Wednesday, as global regulators move away from tainted Libor gauges.
The new rate, known as ESTR, which reflects overnight borrowing costs of banks in the monetary bloc, fixed at -0.549% for Oct. 1, the central bank said on its website.
The shift comes as similar actions are underfoot in sterling and dollar markets after a rigging scandal with the London interbank offered rate undermined confidence in indexes used as benchmarks for roughly $370 trillion of financial products worldwide. In the euro area, regulators are trying to push market participants away from the traditional Euribor and Eonia measures.
By some measures, the euro area has lagged behind other regions in the shift from the much-maligned older benchmarks. U.S. companies have been selling debt linked to the new American reference rate for nearly a year and in the U.K., financial markets have begun to decisively migrate to a sterling overnight rate index.
The good news is that the move to ESTR may be helped by the ECB’s strategy for switching from the former benchmark rate. “The transition to ESTR should be pretty straightforward given Eonia will now be computed as a tracker off this new rate,” said Adam Kurpiel, a strategist at Societe Generale SA. “Euro money-market derivatives will also benefit from all the Eonia infrastructure. It should be much smoother than in the U.S. where new markets had to be created from scratch” for their new benchmark -- the secured overnight financing rate.
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