January 9, 2019 / 5:53 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Pimco's Fels says higher probability of U.S. recession over next 12 months

(Adds quotes on Bernanke and recession, byline)

By Jennifer Ablan

NEW YORK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Recession models are suggesting a higher probability of a U.S. recession over the next 12 months and "flashing orange," said Joachim Fels, managing director and global economic advisor at bond giant Pacific Investment Management Company, on an investor webcast Wednesday.

Fels of PIMCO, which managed over $1.72 trillion in assets as of September 30, said China's slowdown, which could accelerate to the downside, is at the top of his worry list.

"Our recession models now show a higher probability of a recession over the next 12 months than at any time during this expansion," Fels said.

"Having said that, I would say, they are flashing orange rather than red. So the recession probabilities that these models hit out for the U.S. and for the eurozone are still below 50 percent. But again, they have risen."

Fels also said PIMCO's investment process has been modified over the past year, given the uncertain economic and political backdrop.

On Tuesday, the World Bank, citing elevated trade tensions and international trade moderation, said the growth of the global economy is expected to slow to 2.9 percent in 2019 compared with 3 percent in 2018.

Fels said Pimco remains cautious on U.S. investment-grade debt despite recent spread widening as there are "lots of leverage in the sector." (Reporting By Jennifer Ablan; editing by Diane Craft)

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