Wall Street dealers made it tougher for hedge funds to finance trading of securities and derivatives in the three months through November, a Federal Reserve survey showed today.

Responses “indicated a broad but moderate tightening of credit terms applicable to important classes of counterparties,” especially hedge-fund clients, trading real estate investment trusts and nonfinancial corporations, according to the quarterly survey of senior credit officers at 20 dealers covering the period of September to November. The central bank released the report in Washington.

The report adds to evidence of stress in the financial system from Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis. Investor concern about the continent’s turmoil has helped drive the premium banks pay to borrow dollars to the highest in more than two years. The Fed survey didn’t discuss causes of the tighter financing terms.

Respondents reporting tougher borrowing terms for hedge funds “most frequently pointed to a worsening in general market liquidity and functioning and to reduced willingness to take on risk and, to a lesser extent, adoption of more-stringent market conventions and deterioration in the strength of counterparties as the reasons,” the Fed said.

Credit Limits

The Fed’s Senior Credit Officer Opinion Survey on Dealer Financing Terms was conducted from Nov. 15 to Nov. 28. Respondents, who aren’t identified, “account for almost all of the dealer financing of dollar-denominated securities for nondealers and are the most active intermediaries” in over-the- counter derivatives (OTCDTOTL) markets, the Fed said.

Measures of stress in credit markets soared during the three-month period surveyed to the worst levels in more than two years as Europe’s fiscal imbalances intensified, fueling concern that the region’s upheaval would taint bank balance sheets globally.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-29/fed-says-dealers-tighten-terms-on-hedge-fund-securities-trades.html