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UPDATE 2-Brexit fears push Irish spreads to widest in more than 5 months

Updated: 19-11-2018 17:27 IST
Irish government bond yield spreads over Germany neared their widest level since late May on Monday as worries over the economic impact of a possible messy Brexit hurt demand for Irish debt.

British Prime Minister Theresa May last week disclosed a draft agreement on leaving the European Union that met with strong opposition from within her party, could spark a confidence vote in her leadership and increases the chances of a "no deal" Brexit.

Britain is one of Ireland's biggest trading partners, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is a key issue in Brexit talks.

"A no-deal Brexit could have an adverse impact on Ireland's economic picture, which would impact risk assets and have some effect on government bonds as well," said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann.

"It could affect the country in general, it could impact the budget position, the deficit position, and generally weigh on risk assets as well."

While government bonds are generally not considered risky assets, euro zone government debt - especially lower-rated debt - often tends to perform differently, since individual countries don't have control over printing money.

So while British Gilt yields dropped on the reaction to the contentious Brexit proposal, Irish yields increased, with 10-year yields hitting a one-month high of 1.045 percent on Friday.

The spread between Irish and German 10-year bond yields hit a 5-1/2-month high of 65.5 basis points after the official close on Friday, and early on Monday stood at 61 basis points.

Any Brexit impact on effect on Ireland's economy could hurt Dublin's credit-worthiness in the long term. Ireland is currently rated A2, A+ and A+ by the three main ratings agencies Moody's, S&P Global and Fitch respectively.

Moody's last reviewed Ireland in early October, leaving the rating unchanged, while S&P Global is due to review Ireland's credit rating on November 30 and Fitch on December 14.

German bonds have seen flight-to-safety demand, increasing many spreads across the euro zone, but Ireland's underperformance stands out.

For example, the Irish 10-year bond yield's spread over its closest peer, Belgium, also reached its widest level since late May on Friday at 23.5 bps, and was at 21 bps in early trade on Monday.

Also, Irish CDS prices - the cost of insuring exposure to Ireland's sovereign debt - rose on Monday to the highest since June 2017.

Elsewhere, Italian government bond yields dropped 2-4 bps across the curve, with analysts pointing to some conciliatory comments from 5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio as a potential driver as budget talks between Italy and the EU proceed.

Di Maio reiterated over the weekend that the government was willing to sell real estate assets, reduce waste and introduce safeguard clauses to ensure the deficit will not exceed the target of 2.4 percent of output in 2019. But he said: "The main reforms of the budget must remain in place."

The yield on Italy's 10-year government bond was down 2 bps at 3.47 percent, while the spread over Germany tightened 3 bps to 309 bps.

The improved risk sentiment saw the yields of higher-rated bonds rise, with German 10-year yields, the benchmark for the region, 1 bp higher at 0.38 percent.

(Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Andrew Heavens)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)