LONDON - The cost of insuring exposure to Lebanon's sovereign debt rose to a record high on Friday after the president warned of the risk of harsh financial measures from international institutions unless sacrifices were made to save the country from economic crisis.
Lebanon's five-year credit default swaps (CDS) rose to 990 basis points (bps), up 33 bps from Thursday's close, data from IHS Markit showed.
In a speech on Thursday, President Michel Aoun said: "If we do not all make a sacrifice today and accept to waive some of our benefits, we are running the risk of losing them all, when our country comes to the table of international lending institutions, with all the tough economic and financial schemes that they may impose on us."
Lebanon's presidency said on Friday that Reuters had misinterpreted the speech by saying it appeared to raise the possibility of Lebanon having to go to the International Monetary Fund for help if government reform efforts fail.
The presidency's statement on Friday did not repeat Aoun's comments on "international lending institutions" and referred only to his remarks about sacrifices. It said "the president's speech has nothing to do with the Reuters agency's false interpretations."
Lebanon's CDS level has remained elevated in recent weeks, surpassing a surge in January to 940 bps, as the government strives to put public finances on a more sustainable footing with a budget to cut the deficit and a plan to fix the state-run power sector.
(Reporting by Tom Arnold; Additional reporting by Ellen Francis and Tom Perry; Editing by Alison Williams and John Stonestreet) ((Tom.Arnold@thomsonreuters.com; +442075428510; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))