Spanish and Italian five-year notes climbed a seventh day, pushing down yields to records, as investors bet European Central Bank stimulus will arm the region’s debt against a crisis in Portugal’s banking industry.
The rates on the nations’ two-year securities also fell to all-time lows, while those on Portuguese notes due in February 2016 slid for a fourth day. German bonds were little changed as investors awaited clarity on the response of global governments after the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine. Portugal’s Espirito Santo International SA sought protection from creditors on July 19 after roiling global markets when it missed some payments on commercial paper.
“The Portuguese troubles are a thing of the past as far as the government bond markets are concerned,” said Jan von Gerich, fixed-income analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Helsinki. “Sentiment towards the periphery remains quite good. You will get action from the ECB that supports these markets if the European economy takes another hit.”
The yield on Spanish five-year debt dropped four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 1.14 percent at 2:13 p.m. London time after touching 1.125 percent, the lowest since Bloomberg started tracking the data in 1993. The 2.75 percent note due April 2019 rose 0.175, or 1.75 euros per 1,000-euro ($1,352) face amount, to 107.44. Italy’s five-year yield dropped to a record 1.26 percent.
Espirito Santo International is at the top of a chain of holding companies tied to the biggest stake in Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo SA. If the banking woes in Portugal evoked memories of the euro region’s debt crisis, the minimal increase in periphery bond yields shows how far Spain and Italy have come in two years since their benchmark 10-year yields reached record highs of 7.751 percent and 7.483 percent, respectively.
The rate on Spain’s 10-year bond fell three basis points today to 2.57 percent and that on similar-maturity Italian debt was little changed at 2.77 percent.
The turmoil in markets was limited by the stimulus package announced by the ECB last month, which included charging lenders to park cash with it overnight and targeted cheap loans.
Spain’s two-year rate touched 0.305 percent, the least on record, and Italy’s fell as much as four basis points to 0.439 percent, the lowest since at least 1993. Portugal’s two-year yield fell three basis points to 0.87 percent.
“The markets are betting on Spain and, as a consequence, interest rates for the debt will continue falling during the second-half of the year,” Treasury head Inigo Fernandez de Mesa said in an interview with Expansion magazine published today. “We don’t rule out doing a private placement at 50 years.”
The Madrid-based Treasury also plans to reduce the size of bond sales for the rest of this year to 3 billion euros to 3.5 billion euros, Fernandez de Mesa said.
German 10-year bund yields were little changed at 1.15 percent. The rate touched 1.136 percent on July 18, the lowest since July 2012 and within one basis point of the all-time low of 1.127 percent.
Portuguese government securities returned 15 percent this year through July 18, the best-performing euro-area sovereign debt market after Greece, according to Bloomberg World Bond Indexes. Their Spanish peers gained 10 percent and Germany’s earned 5.5 percent.