Spain Sells Record Amount of Debt Through Banks as Yields Fall

Spain sold a record amount of debt via banks after a rally in bonds from Europe’s most indebted nations pushed its borrowing costs to the lowest in seven years.

The Madrid-based Treasury issued 10 billion euros ($13.6 billion) of a new 10-year benchmark bond maturing in April 2024, the highest amount ever placed through a syndication, the Economy Ministry said in a statement.

Spain is fast-tracking bond sales amid a surge in demand for the securities of European peripheral countries as their economies recover from the debt crisis that pushed borrowing costs up to euro-era records. The nation’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is counting on a recovery in the region’s fourth-largest economy to tackle a debt load that will generate a record level of redemptions this year.

“Spain looks to be on a recovery process and the consolidation of its fiscal conditions seem to have worked its way on the real economy,” Annalisa Piazza, a senior fixed-income strategist at Newedge Group in London, wrote in an e-mailed note. “Demand was very solid” at the sale, she wrote.

Investors placed orders for more than 39.6 billion euros of the 10-year securities and the bond was sold to yield 178 basis points over the mid-swap rate, or 3.845 percent, the Treasury said. At a similar sale on May. 14, Spain sold 7 billion euros of bonds maturing in October 2023 at a yield of 278 basis points over the mid-swap rate.

International investors bought 60 percent of the bonds while investment funds were the largest group of buyers, followed by banks, the Economy Ministry said. Barclays Plc, BBVA SA, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Santander GBM and Societe Generale SA led the syndicated sale, it said.

Falling Yields

The yield on Spain’s bond due in October 2023, the current benchmark, was little changed at 3.74 percent at 4:48 p.m. in London. Ten-year yields dropped to 3.64 percent on Jan. 20, the least since 2006. They reached a euro-era high of 7.75 percent in July 2012, when Spain risked losing access to financial markets.

The yield difference versus similar-maturity German bunds narrowed one basis point to 198 basis points today after contracting to 175 basis points on Jan. 9, the narrowest spread since April 2011.

“Spain is an example of the markets liking countries that implement reforms,” said Alberto Gallo, head of European macro-credit research at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London. “Spain and Ireland are experiencing a stronger recovery than France or Italy because they have implemented more reforms.”

Spanish Growth

Rajoy said this month that growth accelerated to about 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter from 0.1 percent in the previous three-month period. The government forecasts an expansion of at least 0.7 percent this year.

The Madrid-based Treasury this month auctioned three-year and five-year notes at the lowest yields on record. Ireland sold bonds for the first time since completing its bailout program and Portugal’s Secretary of State for Treasury Isabel Castelo Branco said the country expects to restart bond auctions before its bailout program ends in the middle of May.

Spain’s Treasury, which returns to the markets next week to sell three- and nine-month bills, has covered 16.6 percent of its total planned issuance of medium- and long-term debt for the year, the Economy Ministry said today.

Spain’s bonds returned 13 percent in the 12 months through yesterday, according to Bloomberg World Bond Indexes. Italy’s rose 7.3 percent and Germany’s gained 0.4 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angeline Benoit in Madrid at abenoit4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net; Deborah L Hyde at dhyde10@bloomberg.net; Paul Dobson at pdobson2@bloomberg.net

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