* S&P ratings lift for Ireland adds to buoyant mood
* Other peripheral yields at historic lows on ECB stimulus
* Spanish 10-year yields fall below U.S. T-notes
(Updates prices into close, adds fresh quotes)
By Emelia Sithole-Matarise
LONDON, June 9 Irish bond yields dipped to a
record low on Monday after Standard & Poor's upgraded the
country's credit ratings, further buoying peripheral euro zone
debt after fresh European Central Bank stimulus last week.
Other peripheral euro zone bond yields also hit the latest
in a series of historic lows, with Spanish 10-year yields
falling below those of U.S. Treasuries for the first time since
Italian five-year yields were also below U.S. equivalents,
highlighting the policy divergence between the ECB and the
Federal Reserve, which is reining in its monetary stimulus.
ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said at the weekend
that euro zone interest rates would diverge for a number of
years from those in the United States and Britain, whose central
banks would at some point raise rates.
S&P's upgrade of Ireland's credit standing to A- from BBB+
late on Friday fostered the euro zone rally. The ratings agency
said it could upgrade Ireland further if data confirmed the
country's economic recovery and that fiscal deficits had fallen
below 3 percent of gross domestic product.
S&P also affirmed Italy's rating at "BBB/A-2" with a
negative outlook. Moody's is scheduled to review Italy's rating
Irish 10-year yields fell 6 basis points to as
low as 2.39 percent, before pulling back slightly to close the
day at 2.44 percent. Spanish yields fell 6 bps to an
all-time low 2.59 percent, while Italian equivalents were 3 bps
lower at 2.72 percent.
"Clearly Ireland's ratings upgrade adds to the increasingly
better news for the periphery in general, but ratings agencies
tend to lag what the market is doing," said Orlando Green, a
strategist at Credit Agricole.
"But broadly this is certainly about the market looking at
the ECB and what they have done and what they will do in the
future so investors are grabbing yields while they can."
Last week's easing measures by the ECB have given fresh
impetus to a two-year euro zone debt rally that has driven
borrowing costs in countries that were at the forefront of the
sovereign debt crisis to record lows.
The ECB cut all its main rates, and ECB President Mario
Draghi also outlined a new long-term loan programme (TLTRO) for
banks to promote lending to small and mid-sized businesses.
"The range of measures ... was interpreted quite positively
by the market. We're seeing people reaching for yield again and
peripheral markets outperforming on the back of it," said Philip
Tyson, a strategist at ICAP.
At the euro zone's core, German Bund yields rose but less
than their U.S. and UK counterparts, driving the 10-year yield
gaps to 2005 and 2010 levels respectively. The two-year T-note
yield premium remained close to its highest in seven years
around 35 bps, with the ECB expected to keep its ultra-easy
policy for longer than initially thought.
Some analysts said banks were likely to use the four-year
TLTRO loans to buy shorter-dated peripheral euro zone bonds and
repay the money two years later, as there was nothing yet in the
programme's conditions to dissuade them from such trades.
"There is no point standing in front of this particular
runaway train and therefore we are mostly long European equities
and bonds," said RMG Chief Investment Officer Stewart
Richardson. "With such financial repression from the ECB,
investors will feel impelled to chase yield further."
(Additional reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Catherine