May 22, 2013
Italy's debt costs leap to highest since October
Italy's borrowing costs rose to their highest in four months at the first bond auction since an election that raises the prospect of prolonged political instability.
No party won a parliamentary majority in the weekend vote, rattling investors in the euro zone's third largest economy and rekindling concerns over the region's debt problems.
Although the treasury sold the maximum planned amount of 4 billion euros of the new 10-year bond, the yield it had to offer jumped to 4.83 percent, the highest since October. Yields in the secondary market were, however, a little easier than on Tuesday.
There were signs that foreign investors had stayed away from the auction, concerned at the political uncertainty, leaving Italian institutions to buy up most of the paper.
"Demand for both lines was relatively solid, probably led by domestic accounts who took advantage of higher yields," wrote Newedge strategist Annalisa Piazza.
"We rule out foreign accounts have played a major role at today's auction as political risks remain high."
The bid-to-cover ratio was a healthy 1.65 - bids totalled 6.6 billion euros - and Italian debt prices and European stocks briefly rose on Wednesday after the results, with investors relieved that the sale had gone smoothly.
Rome's 10-year yields in the secondary market fell 7 basis points to 4.83 percent.
The 10-year yield at auction also compares with a level of 4.97 percent on the grey market this morning and with a 2012 peak of 6.19 percent in June, before the European Central Bank's pledge to buy government bonds of weaker euro zone countries.
That promise defused the euro zone debt crisis at the time.
Italy also issued 2.5 billion euros of a five-year bond on Wednesday, paying a yield of 3.59 percent, up from 2.94 percent one month ago.
"They got it done. The yields are higher than anything they've done for quite some time but that's hardly a big surprise," said Elisabeth Afseth, a rate strategist at Investec.
An auction of six-month bills on Tuesday also saw yields on short-term debt rise sharply compared with the previous sale.