Euro zone govt bonds steady before ECB meeting, risk aversion underpins

Yoruk Bahceli
·2 min read

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields http://tmsnrt.rs/2ii2Bqr

By Yoruk Bahceli

AMSTERDAM, April 21 (Reuters) - Euro zone bond yields were broadly steady on Wednesday as investors appeared to refrain from placing big bets ahead of the European Central Bank monetary policy meeting on Thursday, but risk aversion provided some underlying support to debt markets.

Rising coronavirus cases and the fall in the oil price cast doubt on the strength of global economic growth and dampened risk appetite across global markets on Wednesday, underpinning appetite for safe-haven government bonds.

Investor focus also turned to Thursday's ECB meeting, where the central bank is largely expected to keep policy on hold, while investors are looking for clarity on how it will react to Europe's economic recovery from the pandemic.

Data on Tuesday showed the central bank's bond buying under its pandemic emergency bond programme, before accounting for redemptions, reached its highest since June 2020 last week, according to Refinitiv IFR.

"Rates markets remain very much caught between the rock of improving macroeconomic conditions and the treacherous waters of geopolitical risks and alarming COVID-19 case growth in some corners of the world," ING analysts said.

"As a result, this morning interest rates are back where they started the week after significant gyrations in recent days."

German 10-year yields, the benchmark for the euro area, were unchanged at -0.26% at 0722 GMT, below the -0.215% level touched on Tuesday, which was the highest since late February.

Germany's 10-year Bund yield rose sharply on Monday as focus turned to prospects for greater fiscal spending after the Green Party announced its candidate for chancellor in a Sept. 26 federal election.

But yields fell in late Tuesday trade alongside U.S. Treasury yields as risk aversion boosted the appeal of safe-haven debt. Bond yields fall as prices rise.

There was more focus on Germany's election on Wednesday, after an opinion poll late on Tuesday showed the Green Party overtook the conservatives after the latter named Armin Laschet as its candidate to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Political uncertainty in Germany is unlikely to diminish soon, which might hold back Bund yields from rising further unless the ECB offers new insights," UniCredit analysts said, adding they don't expect the ECB to do so on Thursday.

In the primary market, Germany will reopen a 10-year bond to raise 4 billion euros via an auction. The U.S. Treasury is also due to sell $24 billion of 20-year bonds later in the trading session.

(Reporting by Yoruk Bahceli; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)