* Portuguese bonds claw back some of Monday's losses
* Naked short selling ban on Banco Espirito shares stems
* Other lower-rated euro zone yields dip on ECB outlook
(Adds fresh quote, updates prices)
By Emelia Sithole-Matarise
LONDON, July 1 Portuguese bond yields fell on
Tuesday as worries eased that a probe into three holding
companies of the country's biggest bank could create the type of
financial instability that might force the government to act.
Uncertainty over Banco Espirito Santo since news of the
investigation by Luxembourg's justice authorities drove its
shares down around 16 percent on Monday, and prompted some
investors to take profit on a sharp rally this year in
"Portugal's bonds were hit because of the risk that the
government may be needed to step in and support the banking
system," said Alessandro Giansanti, senior rates strategist at
"It looked like an overreaction though, and I don't think
the banking sector in Portugal is a huge concern."
Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque said last week Banco
Espirito Santo was well-capitalised and the government saw no
threat to financial stability and public accounts.
A rebound in Portugal's government bonds mirrored a recovery
in BES shares after market regulators in Lisbon and
London banned naked short-selling in the stock
BES shares earlier fell to their lowest since July last
year, before reversing those losses to close up nearly 14
percent on the day.
Bond traders and analysts said the recent rise in Portuguese
yields was attracting new buyers who were confident that the
country was still on the right path with its fiscal reforms and
would weather this round of negative news.
"Portugal has been one of those countries that's shown over
time that it's doing the right things in terms of austerity,"
said Credit Agricole strategist Orlando Green. "Growth has been
encouraging, they are able to fund at decent levels. Taking all
this into account, it's not an issue than cannot be overcome."
Portuguese 10-year yields were last 6 basis
points lower at 3.62 percent, having risen as much as 10 bps on
Monday. They were, however, still about 40 bps up from 2005 lows
around 3.25 percent hit three weeks ago.
Junk-rated Portugal successfully completed its bailout deal
in May and returned to the bond market this year with regular
debt auctions which have been well bid. The rejection of some
budget cuts by the constitutional court caused only brief
selling pressure in the market.
The bonds were among the best performers in peripheral euro
zone bond markets in the first half after the European Central
Bank took unprecedented monetary policy measures, fuelling a
Final data showing euro zone manufacturing activity eased in
June to its lowest since November, confirming the bloc's feeble
economic growth and the need for an accommodative ECB.
Weak inflation data on Monday has also served to reinforce
bets the ECB could easy policy further, though the fact it did
not deteriorate from May's 0.5 percent reading gave the bank
room to hold off on further steps at this week's meeting.
"The ECB will certainly take this data into account and EMU
inflation remains at a very low level and this rather supports
the dovish tone of the ECB in general but not changing their
view for now," said Christian Lenk, a strategist at DZ Bank.
"This should keep yields subdued but we don't expect much of
a move before Thursday's ECB meeting and also the (U.S.)
Spanish 10-year yields were 3 bps lower at
2.65 percent with Italian equivalents down 1 basis point at 2.74
(Editing by Nigel Stephenson and Alison Williams)