EURO GOVT-Spain and Greece talk helps nudge Bunds lower
* Bunds fall as U.S. earnings, data boost risk appetite
* Speculation on Spanish, Greek bailouts goes on
* Belgian, French bonds benefit from carry trades
By Marius Zaharia
LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - German government bonds fell on Tuesday as better-than-expected data and corporate earnings along with talk Spain may be close to seeking a bailout and of Greece receiving more aid increased appetite for riskier assets.
Spanish and Italian debt prices rose slightly but the moves were not expected to extend beyond recent ranges, with uncertainty over Spain and Greece still high.
Bund futures fell 23 ticks to 141.32, while cash German 10-year yields rose 2.2 basis points to 1.495 percent.
"We've been in a risk-positive mood," Rabobank senior fixed income strategist Richard McGuire said.
"But the moves have been limited because there is still so much uncertainty. We have yet to see any indication that Spain is ready and willing to request a bailout. I don't think they are ready at this stage. Market pressure is key."
Data showed on Tuesday the German ZEW sentiment indicator improved more than expected in October, while in the United States on Monday September retail sales data and the earnings of banking giant Citigroup beat forecasts.
Recent comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, suggested their stance on Greece has softened. Greek 10-year bond yields fell to their lowest since Aug. 2011 at 17.388 percent on Monday and kept close to that level on Tuesday.
Some euro zone officials said a Spanish bailout request, which would activate European Central Bank buying of the country's bonds, may come next month.
Despite all the positive signals, analysts said bond markets were likely to remain rangebound until more clarity emerged on Spain and Greece.
"There still remains quite a lot of scepticism out there with regards to Spain and the crisis in general," Commerzbank rate strategist Michael Leister said. "Demand for safety remains fairly strong and investors are still comfortable owning Bunds rather than going down the credit curves."
Leister said the roughly 140.00-142.00 range Bund futures have established over the past three weeks was "set in stone" for the near term.
While German and peripheral bonds look stuck in recent ranges, French and Belgian bonds are quietly advancing towards their best levels.
Daily moves in the French and Belgian bonds in the past weeks have been small but usually in the same direction.
Ten-year Belgian bond yields hit a record low of 2.330 percent on Tuesday, after falling to 2.331 percent on Monday. French 10-year yields were last stable at 2.04 percent, having gradually fallen by some 25 basis points over the past month.
Analysts say those bonds are firming due to the re-emergence of carry trades -- transactions in which an investor borrows money at low rates to invest in assets that offer higher rates.
Those trades grow in popularity in periods of low volatility or general appetite for risk as investors can expect the interest rate differential between the two assets to change little or at least remain positive.
So-called "semi-core", French and Belgian bonds are in between the safest and the riskiest euro zone government debt, meaning they are less sensitive to sudden shifts in risk appetite.
"Low volatility and the ECB's zero (deposit facility) rate policy favours carry trades and this is mainly benefiting countries like France and Belgium," Commerzbank's Leister said.
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