UPDATE 1-Euro zone bond yields near 16-week highs on trade optimism
Eurozone bond yields held near 16-week highs on Friday after China and the United States agreed to roll back tariffs if they complete the first phase of a trade deal. The Chinese Commerce Ministry, without laying out a timetable, said the two countries had agreed to cancel the tariffs in phases.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the rollback would be part of the first phase of a trade agreement that is still being put on paper for U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign. Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker does not believe Trump will impose tariffs on imported European cars next week, he told Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday.
"The more tangible noise about a possible near-term agreement [between U.S. and China] and at the same time that the threat (to) European cars is off the table all helped to boost the risk sentiment," said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann. The biggest rise in German exports in almost two years in September also provided some relief amid widespread concerns that Europe's largest economy will dip into recession in the third quarter.
The boost to risk sentiment has hurt safe-haven government bonds. Germany's 10-year bond yield is up 12 basis points this week, set for its biggest weekly rise in a month. The rise in bond yields sent German 20-year and French 10-year yields into positive territory for the first time since July. Finland's 10-year yield was the latest to reach positive territory, briefly touching 0.001% on Friday. It was the last trading at -0.02%.
Most 10-year government bond yields were flat on the day, with Germany's benchmark at -0.26%, just off a 16-week high it first hit on Thursday. Focus now turns to the Spanish general election on Sunday, the country's fourth in four years. The bond market appears unconcerned, with the gap between Spanish and German 10-year government bond yields near its lowest point since July at 64 bps.
"There are very little signs of underperformance of late," said Commerzbank's Guntermann. "I think it has to do with the view and message from the polls that no clear-cut majority is likely to come out of this election and if anything the odds for a more left-wing government, which could risk higher spending, is very low."
The Socialists will lead but lose two seats compared with the last parliamentary election, in April, according to an El Pais poll from Sunday. "We're not expecting a huge macro change," said Ross Hutchison, rates fund manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments.
"The picture is relatively good for the periphery, especially Spain. Catalonia is volatile and relevant but poses no immediate risk."
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