Japanese Bonds Rise as Economic Assessment Cut on Quake, Nuclear Concerns

Japan’s 10-year bonds rose for the first time in six days as the government lowered its assessment of the economy, citing the nation’s worst earthquake and unresolved nuclear crisis.

Ten-year yields fell from near a two-month high after Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano said yesterday the disaster’s effect on the economy has been larger than earlier estimated and the government raised the severity of the accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant to match that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The Ministry of Finance will sell 2.4 trillion yen ($28.5 billion) of five-year notes tomorrow.

“It’s only natural that JGBs are slightly up on the day given how much attention the Japanese nuclear reading has received overseas,” said Makoto Kuroda, a strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo.

The yield on the 1.3 percent bond due March 2021 fell two basis points to 1.31 percent as of 3:18 p.m. in Tokyo at Japan Bond Trading Co., the nation’s largest interdealer debt broker. The price rose 0.176 yen to 99.912 yen. Yields climbed to 1.335 percent on April 11, the highest since Feb. 17.

Ten-year bond futures for June delivery gained 0.13 to 138.75 at the afternoon close on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

‘Shown Weakness’

A magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami that hit the nation’s northeast on March 11 left more than 28,000 people dead or missing, according to the National Police Agency. Three earthquakes of magnitude 6 or more have hit Japan in the past two days, along with a 5.4-magnitude temblor this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Although the Japanese economy was picking up, it has shown weakness” since the March 11 disaster, the Cabinet Office said in its report today in Tokyo. A power shortage that resulted from a crippled nuclear facility, delays in resolving supply-chain disruptions and rising oil prices threaten to depress growth further, it said.

The Fukushima plant that was damaged in the tsunami has released about 10 percent as much radiation as Chernobyl, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said in a statement yesterday. The leaks won’t be stopped in “a few days or weeks,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

The gain in bonds was tempered before the Ministry of Finance sells debt tomorrow. The previous five-year sale on March 10 drew bids for 3.49 times the amount on offer, compared with a so-called bid-to-cover ratio of 3.56 in February.

“It’s difficult for investors to make moves before the five-year sale,” said Makoto Yamashita, chief rates strategist in Tokyo at Deutsche Securities, a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG. “The auction should go OK if it’s a reopening of the previous debt with a 0.6 percent coupon, but you never know what will happen.”

Five-year yields fell 1.5 basis points to 0.54 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yoshiaki Nohara in Tokyo at ynohara1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rocky Swift at rswift5@bloomberg.net.

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