June 28, 2019 / 11:34 AM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 2-Euro zone bond yields hover near lows ahead of inflation data

* Euro zone inflation at 1.2% in June

* German yields hover near record lows

* Italian debt outperforms, yields lower 4-6 bps

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields tmsnrt.rs/2ii2Bqr (Updates prices to close)

By Abhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - Euro zone government bond yields on Friday fell towards record lows in many cases on tepid inflation data for the bloc and ahead of a G20 meeting this weekend at which the potential easing of a trade conflict will be in focus.

Flatlining inflation in the single currency bloc has forced the European Central Bank to allude to more stimulus, pushing yields to record lows in recent weeks.

And though underlying inflation in the euro zone rebounded in June, offering some comfort to the ECB, the headline figure of 1.2% for the month was still well short of the improvement policymakers are hoping for.

“It’s one of those situations where the market has seen the details and said ‘it’s not changed our view that we’re not getting inflation from anywhere’, so it was a bit of damp squib really,” said Rabobank rates strategist Lyn Graham-Taylor.

Germany’s 10-year government bond yield fell 1.5 basis points to -0.33%, within a whisker of a record low of 0.336% hit earlier this week.

Italian debt, seen as one of the biggest beneficiaries of ECB largesse, outperformed, with 10-year yields dropping 6 bps to 2.07%, its lowest in a week.

The closely watched spread over Germany tightened to 240 bps.

The breakdown of the euro zone inflation numbers showed the ‘core’ figure, excluding volatile food and energy prices, jumped to 1.2 percent from 1 percent in May.

Still, that was in line with expectations and still below April’s reading, suggesting that overall price pressures are modest despite years of extraordinary stimulus from the ECB.

“The increase in core inflation seems to have been due to a rebound in volatile transport and holiday prices, rather than rising underlying price pressures, so it should not deflect the ECB from policy in the coming months,” analysts at Capital Economics said in a note.

Concern over China’s stance on trade negotiations with the United States ahead of the weekend’s G20 meeting also supported safe haven government debt.

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to no preconditions for his high-stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this weekend and is maintaining his threat to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday.

“The issue is, if the trade situation improves between the U.S. and China, Trump could start targeting the euro zone instead. So we don’t see the trade war worries disappearing soon,” said Graham-Taylor. (Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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