BROWSE

Euro zone bonds steady, balancing lockdowns and recovery | Reuters

Euro zone bond yields held ground on Thursday, having little reason to change direction in a balancing act between extended lockdowns, central bank support and data pointing to signs of economic recovery.

France announced late on Wednesday it would widen lockdown measures to the entire country starting Saturday, in the latest sign of the euro zone’s struggles to keep the coronavirus pandemic in check.

That topped dovish messaging in European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde’s Wednesday interview with Bloomberg News, where she said investors could test the bank’s willingness to rein in rising borrowing costs “as much as they want”. An end to its pandemic bond buying scheme in 2022 is “not set in stone”, she said.

The bank accelerated the pace of its bond buying at its March meeting, but that also means that without an increase to the size of the programme, the purchases will just run out earlier.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion-plus jobs plan on Wednesday, underscoring the virus recovery theme prevailing in markets.

All in all, euro area bond yields remained largely unchanged on Thursday. At 0739 GMT, Germany’s 10-year yield, the benchmark for the bloc, held at -0.30%. Bond yields move inversely with prices.

European data on Thursday are focused on second-tier manufacturing surveys (PMIs), with Spain’s sector activity growing more than expected in March and Italy’s expected to show a similar result, in line with pan-European data released last week.

U.S. manufacturing PMIs due later in the day will be a bigger focus. That index is also expected to rise, but DZ Bank analysts said attention would be on the prices paid component. A further rise could get bond investors back to fretting about inflationary pressures.

But “Europe’s traders and investors will hardly be able to react to the numbers, and are unlikely to be keen to take on risk ahead of that release and the long weekend,” DZ Bank analysts told clients, referring to the Easter holidays on Friday and Monday. (Reporting by Yoruk Bahceli, editing by Larry King)

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