* S&P downgrades Italy to A, three notches below Moody's
* Periphery wider; concerns over Greece's next aid tranche
* Bank funding strains intensifying
By Marius Zaharia
LONDON, Sep 20 German Bunds firmed and Italian
bonds briefly jumped on Tuesday after Standard & Poor's cut
Italy's credit rating, in another sign that the euro zone debt
crisis is getting worse.
There were also fears about Greece's ability to secure its
next international aid tranche, while funding strains in
interbank markets intensified, keeping the outlook of further
Bund gains intact.
S&P cut Italy to A from A+, preceding any move by Moody's,
which was expected to be the first major credit ratings agency
to downgrade the country. S&P now rates the country 3 notches
lower than Moody's current Aa2 and 2 notches lower than Fitch's
"It was clear to everybody that Italy's rating was under
some sort of pressure. But Moody' at least concluded that they
were not yet ready to downgrade Italy so the timing came a bit
of a surprise and S&P has already been most aggressive on
Italy," said Rainer Guntermann, strategist at Commerzbank.
"It is also a reminder that there will be pressure on the
ratings of some other countries."
Bund futures FGBLc1 last traded 31 ticks up on the day at
137.74, having risen as high as 138.14. German 10-year yields
fell 3.3 basis points to 1.770 percent, within a
whisker of record lows at 1.681 percent.
Guntermann said fresh bad news may be needed to test record
low yields during Tuesday's session, but that the general risk
backdrop will be supportive for Bunds for "some time to come"
and they could move in uncharted territory soon.
Italian BTP futures FBTPc1 were last 26 ticks down at
99.59 in very thin trade, having fallen as low as 98.50 earlier
in the session. The Italian/German 10-year yield spread briefly
reached 397 bps in the session, before falling back to 386 bps,
up 7 bps on day.
One trader said the spread narrowing was caused by a few
small bids for Italian paper in thin trade. Another trader said
there was talk of the European Central Bank buying Italian and
Spanish debt, although he had not seen the flows.
Italian 5-year credit default swaps rose 27 basis points to
515 bps, according to monitor Markit.
Concerns over French banks were also hitting the market.
Three sources said the Bank of China has stopped foreign
exchange forwards and swaps trading with some banks, including
France's Societe Generale , Credit Agricole
and BNP Paribas .
The 10-year French/German spread was a tad
higher on the day at 83 bps, but outright yields were lower,
with traders saying investors were still happy to buy French
debt due to the country's triple-A status.
DOUBTS OVER GREECE
Greece promised as many austerity moves as necessary to get
its next aid tranche in a telephone call with senior officials
of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, but
the lenders warned implementation was key.
Talks will resume on Tuesday and traders said they were
still wary on Greece, which has a poor reform record and is off
track with its fiscal targets.
"Talks seem to be going well in Greece, but I'm not
convinced," a third trader said.
Market participants were also looking for a fresh easing of
monetary policy from this week's Federal Reserve meeting that
could hint at more coordinated action to address a gloomy
Fixed income markets were pricing in a move to extend the
maturity of the Fed's Treasury assets, but a bolder move may
boost risky assets and hit Bunds.
(Reporting by Marius Zaharia; editing by Anna Willard)