EURO GOVT-Bunds rise as investors stay cautious on peripherals
* Bunds rise, peripheral seen vulnerable to more selling
* Not much expected from meeting of euro zone finmins
* Quiet start to the week as Asia closed for holidays
LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - German Bunds rose on Monday, with market participants saying a sell-off in lower-rated debt had further room to run due to political uncertainty in Spain and jitters before an Italian vote this month.
Analysts were not expecting much news from a euro zone finance ministers meeting later in the day, where the strength of the euro could be discussed before a G20 meeting at the end of the week.
A peripheral bond rally paused last week as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faced calls to step down over corruption allegations and another scandal involving Monte dei Paschi bank fuelled political uncertainty before Italian elections.
As long as these issues remained unresolved, investors may favour Bunds over lower-rated debt, analysts said.
"Near term, I think that (the periphery) can continue to underperform because the situation in these countries remains relatively unclear. Whether it's in Spain or in Italy, we have some political issues and in the near term, this (will) continue to (weigh) on these markets," Patrick Jacq, rate strategist at BNP Paribas said.
German Bund futures were 15 ticks higher at 142.98.
Ten-year Spanish government bond yields were up 3.5 basis points at 5.42 percent, having risen about 47 basis points since late January.
Equivalent Italian borrowing costs were up 1.1 bps at 4.58 percent, having also climbed 44 bps over the same period.
"We (are) just recommending keeping long Bund versus Treasuries and versus peripheral markets," he said, adding risk appetite was generally better in the United States due to solid economic data and the Federal Reserve's ultra-easy monetary policy.
Trade was thin with most Asian bourses closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, including those in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, and Japan also closed for a public holiday.
With no major economic data this session investors would look to euro zone industrial production numbers on Wednesday and gross domestic product figures on Thursday for the latest gauge of the struggling economy.
Attention will also be on Thursday's Italian bond sale, which will see the offering of a 30-year BTP for the first time since May 2011 in a regular auction.
The nervous backdrop is likely to force Italy to pay more in order to get the bonds away, but analysts expect the sale of three separate bonds including those maturing in 2015 and 2026 to benefit from heavy redemption flows in February.
"We are quite optimistic that they will make it, there will be no negative surprise," Piet Lammens, strategist at KBC said. "Ahead of the Italian elections, there is a bit of a risk but we think Italian banks will be there to get enough bonds placed in the market."
Political uncertainty forced Spain to pay higher to raise funds last week, even though the sale met healthy demand.
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