German yields edge up after Russia step-back, Gaza ceasefire

Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:58am EDT

* Russia says it had ended military drills near Ukraine

* Israel and the Palestinians strike 72-hour truce

* Uncertainty remains high, top-rated assets to remain bid (Updates prices, adds comment)

By Marius Zaharia

LONDON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - German bond yields bounced off record lows on Monday after Moscow said it had finished military exercises near Ukraine, while Israel and the Palestinians agreed a ceasefire, curbing flows into top-rated assets.

But market moves were limited as uncertainty remained high and investors saw risks of further flare-ups.

Bund futures fell 9 ticks to 149.39, with 10-year German yields rising 1 basis point to 1.06 percent, having hit a record low of 1.024 percent on Friday.

Bunds, seen as among the safest assets in the world, have gained especially from the conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. Economic sanctions imposed by both sides are expected to take their toll on the euro zone's economic recovery, which is already fragile and uneven.

"We're seeing some relief from the Gaza ceasefire and also on the Ukrainian front there's a bit of a step-back there," said Lyn Graham-Taylor, rate strategist at Rabobank.

"But overall there's still a huge amount of uncertainty on both fronts. No one seems to know how these will play out and you can get big swings on very little information."

Late on Friday, Moscow's Defence Ministry said it stopped drills in southern Russia, easing fears that it could invade eastern Ukraine.

But talk of a ceasefire in Ukraine, a possibility raised by a pro-Russian separatist leader on Saturday, evaporated as government forces pushed to recapture Donetsk.

In the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Sunday to a new 72-hour truce in Gaza.

In Iraq, U.S. air strikes against Islamic state targets were seen by some analysts as aiding stability, curbing risks of oil supply disruptions from OPEC's second-largest producer.

BUSY AUGUST

The conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine have kept traders on their toes at the start of a month known for very low activity due to the summer holidays in the northern hemisphere.

Last week's volumes in Bund futures were, at 3.5 million lots, the largest since June and above a weekly average of just below 3 million in 2014. Volumes in Italian BTP futures were the highest since May at just below 360,000 lots.

Spanish and Italian 10-year yields each fell 3 basis points to 2.55 percent and 2.81 percent, respectively.

Italy's Senate passed on Friday a first reading of a hotly contested constitutional reform bill backed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The bill, aimed at making the upper house an unelected body and drastically reducing its powers, requires many more months and perhaps a popular referendum in order to become law. But eventually, Renzi hopes it will end the kind of parliamentary stalemate left after a deadlocked election last year.

The slow speed of Italy's reforms came under closer scrutiny in financial markets last week after data showed the euro zone's third-largest economy slipping back into recession.

Renzi told the Financial Times that Italy would post a budget deficit of just below the European Union's deficit limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product without additional fiscal tightening. April's official forecast was 2.6 percent.

"Structural measures promised by Renzi are still to be seen, and with last week's poor GDP numbers the time is running out," said Suvi Kosonen, an analyst at Nordea. (Reporting by Marius Zaharia, editing by Andrew Heavens)

FILED UNDER:
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Find your dream retirement town

Florida? Hawaii? Reuters has teamed up with Zillow to give you the power to customize a list of your best places to retire.  Video | Full Article