EURO GOVT-Bunds track Treasuries as Spain waiting game drags on

Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:47am EDT

Related Topics

* Bunds rise but within recent ranges

* Credit Suisse flags Bund resistance at 141.90-95

* IMF, German divergence adds to uncertainty

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa

LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - German Bund futures tracked gains in U.S. Treasuries on Friday, but traders expected another quiet session with no more clarity yet on when Spain will seek a bailout.

A Spanish request for aid would likely trigger European Central Bank bond buying, but the euro zone's fourth-largest economy seems in no hurry to seek help. Its borrowing costs have been broadly under control since the promise of potential intervention was made. The psychological impact of the ECB's pledge was made clear this week when a downgrade to Spain's credit rating to one notch above "junk" by Standard & Poor's had only a fleeting, limited impact on sovereign debt markets.

"We are just in line with where Treasuries were late yesterday," one trader said. "We are in a boring, low volume range ... No one is actually doing anything because everybody is waiting for news on Spain or Greece." German Bund futures were 18 ticks higher at 141.33. The contract has been stuck in a 140.70-141.95 range over the last three weeks and shows no sign of breaking out for the time being, said David Sneddon, technical analyst at Credit Suisse.

"You are pretty much as sideways as you want to get it within the range. It only starts to get exciting above 141.90-95," he said, adding that was a big resistance level.

EURO ZONE OUTLOOK

Uncertainty over how the euro zone debt crisis will develop from here was also underpinning demand for safe-haven bonds, some market players said.

In a softening of earlier positions, the International Monetary Fund has argued that forcing Greece and other debt-burdened countries in Europe to reduce their deficits too quickly is counter-productive because it hurts the economy.

The shift shows just how worried policymakers are about the euro zone's growth outlook. But Germany pushed back against that advice, saying that reversing course on promised deficit reductions would only weaken credibility.

"This is only a confirmation that at the global level policymakers differ on the way forward. You would expect that after a such long period of crisis, there (would be) more convergence in opinions," Elwin de Groot, senior market economist at Rabobank said.

There was also a lingering question mark on when Spain would request a bailout which would likely trigger central bank intervention - the promise of which has provided some stability to sovereign debt markets recently.

The prospect of a financial backstop has meant that any rise in Spanish yields is now seen as an opportunity to buy, given that investors are broadly reluctant to put on selling positions on the Spanish debt market, analysts say.

Ten-year Spanish bond yields were down 3.6 basis points at 5.75 percent but were within recent ranges. De Groot said only an event that would prompt yields to head back towards 7 percent would be enough to push Spain to seek help.

"We have been in a Catch-22 situation," he said. "If you start selling the paper now and suddenly within a few weeks Spain says we are going to do it, the yields will drop back a lot so you actually miss this opportunity."

Spain's borrowing costs over two years were down 6.4 basis points at 3.20 percent.

Ten-year Italian yields dipped below 5 percent, and was down 3.3 bps at 4.99 percent.

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