U.S. Markets

Bond redemptions and economic worries hold euro zone yields down

LONDON (Reuters) - Euro zone government bond yields held near recent lows on Monday on concern over economic growth, as a week of hefty European sovereign debt redemptions gets under way.

FILE PHOTO - An employee holds 2 cent euro coins at the "Monnaie de Paris", national mint factory in Pessac, France, November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

In a market preoccupied by a potential trade war between the United States and China on global growth, safe-haven European government bonds such as German Bunds are proving a popular investment.

China stepped up its attacks on the Trump administration on Monday over billions of dollars worth of threatened tariffs, saying Washington is to blame for trade frictions and repeating it was impossible to negotiate under “current circumstances.”

As a result, Germany's 10-year government bond yield hovers around 0.50 percent, far below the year's highs of 0.81 percent. DE10YT=RR

“It looks like we’ve reached a steady state for the European market, more particularly for the Bunds,” said Commerzbank strategist Rainer Guntermann.

“Investors are just not willing to reduce duration given the concerns about the slowdown in the global economy,” Guntermann said.

Sentix’s index for the euro zone showed on Monday that investor morale deteriorated for the third month in April on concern over a global growth slowdown and a possible trade war.

Furthermore, German exports plunged in February, posting their biggest monthly drop in more than two years and narrowing the country’s trade surplus, data showed on Monday, suggesting that growth in Europe’s biggest economy may have peaked.

Most euro zone bond yields - which move inversely to price - are now close to multi-month lows, and on Monday they were holding steady at the start of one of the biggest weeks for redemptions in Europe.

Commerzbank estimates that around 60 billion euros of European government bonds mature this week and only about 13 billion euros of supply is available to counter this, so yields are unlikely to rise much, analysts said.

Investors are also watching what European Central Bank policymakers have to say about global growth amid the trade tensions, with chief economist Peter Praet due to speak later on Monday.

Outgoing ECB vice-president Vitor Constancio said on Monday the central should be “cautious” and avoid tightening monetary policy too fast, to avoid hobbling a recovery in euro zone inflation.

Also, the International Monetary Fund is due to release its world economic outlook. DZ Bank analyst Sebastian Fellechner said the market will be looking to the IMF for guidance on the direction of the global economy.

“It’s interesting to see if the IMF still expects a continuation of global economic growth or if they are seeing some implications of the trade war,” he said.

Later this week, minutes from ECB and Federal Reserve meetings and inflation data for the U.S. will be released.

On Friday, Fed Reserve chair Jerome Powell said rate hikes will likely continue as planned.

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury yields was 3 bps higher in European trade on Monday at around 2.80 percent. US10YT=RR

Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan & Fanny Potkin, editing by Larry King