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LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - German bond futures opened firmer on Thursday as minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's March policy meeting eased some worries the central bank might raise interest rates as soon as next year's first half.
The perceived dovish tone of the minutes was also seen supporting riskier credits, setting up a firm backdrop for Greece's return to the bond market just two years after it defaulted. Greece launches a new five-year benchmark bond on Thursday via a syndicate of banks and investor interest had already totalled 11 billion euros on Wednesday.
Ireland also sells up to 1 billion euros of 10-year debt on Thursday, its second regular auction since exiting its bailout in December followed by Italy's offer on Friday of up to 7.25 billion euros of three-, seven- and 30-year bonds.
German Bund futures were last ticks 30 ticks higher on the day at 143.56, while Italian bond futures were 18 ticks up at 122.75.
"The Fed minutes were massively dovish, downplaying the market's interpretation of future policy. That's the main driver today," a trader said, adding expectations of easier European Central Bank monetary policy fueled the upbeat market tone.
"It's fairly construcitve stuff for the market overall. We expect (the Greek bond sale) to be massively oversubscribed. That's going to fly." (Reporting by Emelia Sithole-Matarise; Editing by Jamie McGeever)