July 5, 2012 / 4:01 PM / 7 years ago

MONEY MARKETS-Euribors rise on rate cut, lending to remain dry

* Euribor futures rise on refi rate cut

* Deposit rate cut weighs on Eonia rates

* Rate reductions seen having limited impact on lending, economy

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - Euribor futures rose on Thursday after the European Central Bank cut its interest and deposit rates in a bid to shore up a flailing economy and a struggling banking system.

The ECB cut its main refinancing rate by 25 basis points to a record low 0.75 percent, as expected, after a recent bout of downbeat economic data suggested the euro zone debt crisis was even taking a toll on Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy.

The monetary authority also reduced its deposit rate to zero from 0.25 percent, putting pressure on Eonia rates and making it less attractive for banks to park their cash at the central bank overnight.

The move was considered symbolic only days after a European Union summit agreed to a more flexible use of the euro zone rescue funds - surpassing market expectations and offering euro zone debt markets fleeting respite.

But the rate cuts are expected to only have limited impact on the real economy and on banks’ willingness to lend to each other again, analysts said.

“Economic data recently were very weak and after the European summit which had been received positively by the ECB, it was clear that (ECB President Mario) Draghi and the ECB wanted to reciprocate,” Matteo Regesta, strategist at BNP Paribas, said.

Business surveys this week suggested the euro zone economy contracted between April and June, while data showed unemployment in the currency bloc hit a new euro-era high in May.

“The ECB expects (the deposit rate cut) to encourage banks to lend cash to the broader real economy as they don’t get remuneration anymore from lending to the ECB,” Regesta said. “That’s the idea, whether they do it is another thing.”

Euribor futures rose across the curve after the rate decision and stood between 5 and 9.5 basis points on the day across September 2012 and December 2014 contracts.

Euribor rates were traditionally used as a gauge of interest rate expectations but excess liquidity in the market from two injections of long-term cash from the ECB has made it more difficult to use them as such.

Analysts who took a shot at it said the move in Euribors was a readjustment after the rate decision and markets were not currently pricing in any further monetary easing.


In theory, a cut in interest rates would stimulate lending by making it cheaper for banks to borrow from the ECB at refinancing operations, and a reduction in the deposit rate would make them more willing to lend to each other instead of placing their money at the ECB overnight.

A rate cut in the deposit rate to zero - which acts as a floor to money market rates - put downward pressure on Eonia rates and Eonia forwards.

In practice, analysts do not expect bank lending to normalize because banks are still worried about each other’s exposure to risky sovereign debt.

Some also think zero percent returns at the deposit facility would not be enough to discourage them from parking their money at a safe place like the ECB in the current environment.

“The cost of borrowing for banks at the ECB operations has dropped because the cost of borrowing at the ECB is basically (based on) the refi rate ... so banks now have to pay a lower price for the ECB liquidity,” Giuseppe Maraffino, strategist at Barclays, said.

This was positive for peripheral banks, but may not be enough to boost lending, he said:

“There is a problem of balance sheets ... I don’t think these measures will support lending to the economy by banks.”

The rate cut could help the real economy by weakening the euro and boosting exports, Regesta added.

The euro slumped against a range of currencies on Thursday and hit a one-month low against the dollar after the ECB rate decision.

Others in the broader market were disappointed that the ECB did not opt or hint at more dramatic measures such as buying government bonds or flooding banks with fresh liquidity.

Spanish and Italian bond yields spiked as a result.

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