S&P predicts 20pc default rate for high yield firms in 2009

A fifth of European speculative grade companies could default by 2010, according to a report released by Standard and Poor's late last year. The rating agency predicted that the deteriorating economic outlook and illiquid market conditions of 2008 would continue throughout 2009 and beyond.

"Investors should be braced for a record number of defaults among European companies ... caused by plummeting confidence in the banking sector, the virtual closure of the corporate bond market in September, and

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