November 13, 2012 / 8:56 AM / 5 years ago

EURO GOVT-Greek aid delay lifts Bunds, focus on bill sale

* Greece gets more time, but aid delayed

* Uncertainty over Greece and United States supports Bunds

* Athens sells T-bills to roll over expiring debt

By Marius Zaharia

LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - German Bunds rose on Tuesday after international lenders stopped short of disbursing Greece’s next aid tranche, with the market focusing on a short-term debt sale in Athens required to roll over expiring debt.

The sale of one- and three-month T-bills is aimed at refinancing a 5 billion euro issue maturing on Nov. 16. Debt agency officials and analysts expressed confidence that the issue will be fully funded, but the relatively large size and the timing of the auction kept tension high.

Greece had initially planned to pay back the debt expiring this week using bailout cash, but the International Monetary Fund and the euro zone clashed over a long-term target date to shrink the country’s debt and aid was delayed.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers, said a further Eurogroup meeting would take place on Nov. 20, while officials said more talks could be required the following week to nail down a new deal.

The fact that Greece was given two extra years to meet the debt cuts required by its bailout programme, however, showed the lenders wanted the aid programme to continue, analysts said. That limited gains for safe-haven German Bunds.

“There seems to be quite a big difference of opinion between the IMF and euro zone finance ministers ... but our view is still that Greece won’t leave the euro zone,” Rabobank rate strategist Lyn Graham-Taylor said.

“The next few weeks will be choppy and headline-driven. The Greek T-bill auction is the focus this morning because of its size, but I think it will go OK. These things tend to be purchased by Greek banks.”

Bund futures were last 21 ticks higher on the day at 143.48, having earlier hit a two-month high of 143.48. Ten-year cash yields fell 2.5 basis points to 1.317 percent, at the bottom of their 40 bps range of the past three months.

Strategists at Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen said the next target for Bunds was 144.37, the Aug. 29 high. If the trend reverses, Bunds should find support at Nov. 8’s low of 142.57 or the 100-day moving average of 142.26.

Investors were also watching U.S. lawmakers’ efforts to reach a deal on budget cuts and avoid automatic tax hikes and spending reductions worth about $600 billion next year. The so-called “fiscal cliff” could send the U.S. back into recession and hurt the global economy.

“That is a big support for the (Bund) market,” one trader said. “Greece and the U.S. are the main drivers at the moment.”

The German ZEW economic sentiment indicator for November, due later on Tuesday, will also be closely watched.

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