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U.S. benchmark rate committee recommends CME SOFR term rates

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By Karen Brettell and Jonnelle Marte

July 29 (Reuters) - A group of banks and investors overseeing the shift of trillions of dollars to the new benchmark U.S. interest rate SOFR said on Thursday that they are recommending the use of the CME Group’s term SOFR rates in a move that should boost the move away from Libor.

“This formal recommendation of SOFR Term Rates is an achievement for the USD LIBOR transition specifically and for financial stability overall,” said Tom Wipf, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) chairman and vice chairman of institutional securities at Morgan Stanley, in a statement. “Market participants now have all the tools they need as we enter the transition’s homestretch.”

Investors are facing a year-end deadline to stop basing new loans and trades on Libor, the London Interbank Offered Rate, which is being phased out due to concerns about the amount of derivatives using the rate, which in many cases is based on assumptions about their borrowing costs and not actual trades.

Libor also lost credibility when it was revealed that large banks manipulated the rate before and during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

The CME offers one-month, three-month and six-month Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) reference rates. Many companies and investors have sought a forward-looking rate term in order to lock in or hedge future interest rate exposures.

The ARRC said it recommends the use of the term rates for business loans and to hedge cash products but not for derivatives markets.

The shift away from Libor will require more than $200 trillion in trades and loans to move to new benchmarks, with SOFR expected to take the majority of the volume.

SOFR is based on around $1 trillion in daily loans in the U.S. overnight repurchase agreement (repo) market. The ARRC selected SOFR to replace Libor in 2017. (Reporting by Karen Brettell and Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)