In his annual report, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured Congress that the Fed intends to keep interest rates low. Nevertheless, many bank-debt investors and the general market remain nervous, and they are convinced that external events could still push rates up.

U.S. banks are mostly well positioned against such an event, and their margins could even widen from a rate spike. Nevertheless, some could find themselves absorbing another heavy blow to their asset quality.

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