UPDATE 1-German, French debt sales attract high demand

Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:12am EDT

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* German 2044 bond auction receives strong bids

* French debt sales hit upper end of target range

By William James

LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Investors snapped up long-term debt issues from Germany and France on Wednesday, drawn by attractive yields relative to bonds with shorter maturities.

Germany's final sale this year of its 2044 bond raised 1.704 billion euros and attracted bids worth 2.7 times the amount sold to investors -- well above the average of similar sales this year.

"It was actually very strong. We were a bit surprised by how strong it came out," said Artis Frankovics, strategist at Nomura in London.

The bonds were sold at an average yield of 2.34 percent, higher than the 2.17 percent seen at a similar sale in July but still low by historical standards.

Analysts said the recent poor performance of long-dated German debt, in part due to the risk that monetary policy could stoke inflation, had left the July 2044 paper looking good value compared to 10-year debt.

"We see inflation risk is coming down so that could have driven some more support for the 30-year bonds... although demand today is probably more due to valuation considerations," said ING strategist Alessandro Giansanti.

Earlier, France found similarly high demand for its long-term debt, issuing 7.49 billion euros of new bonds and hitting the maximum the Treasury had targeted from the sale of six-, 10- and 23-year lines.

French debt has remained popular with investors thanks to its combination of higher yields than Germany and France's status as a "core" euro zone state despite signs the government is reluctant to embark on rapid economic reform.

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