Italian, Spanish, Irish, Portuguese Bonds Sink as Crisis Spreads

Italian two-year note yields surged the most in over a year, as the nation’s borrowing costs rose at a debt sale and contagion from Greece’s debt crisis spread across the 17-nation euro region.

Yields on notes from Ireland, Portugal and Greece soared to euro-era records, while German bunds advanced for the fifth time in six weeks as Europe’s politicians clashed over how to craft a new rescue plan for Greece involving private bondholders. Spanish and Italian 10-year bonds slumped, sending yields to the most since the euro’s inception in 1999, as borrowing costs rose to a three-year high at a sale of five-year Italian securities. France, Spain and Germany plan to sell debt next week.

“The market isn’t looking at fundamentals, it is just worried about contagion,” said Huw Worthington, a fixed-income strategist at Barclays Capital in London. “There’s been growing infection across most of the euro-region issuers and it’s hard to see what the catalyst is going to be to get confidence back into the markets with all the issuance next week.”

Italy’s two-year yield climbed 75 basis points over the week to 4.26 percent as of 4:40 p.m. in London yesterday. That’s the biggest weekly increase since the five trading days ending May 7, 2010, the week before Europe’s leaders announced a $1 trillion backstop for the euro. Yields on 10-year notes advanced 48 basis points to 5.75 percent. They reached 6.02 percent on July 12, the most since 1997.

Italian Austerity

A market selloff this week that sent Italian stocks sliding and bond yields surging led Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to push for the speedy passage of 40 billion euros ($57 billion) in deficit cuts to balance the budget in 2014 in an attempt to shield his country from the crisis.

Ireland’s two-year bonds plunged after Moody’s Investors Service cut the nation to Ba1 from Baa3 on June 12, saying it is likely to need a second bailout. The country’s two-year yields climbed 6.9 percentage points to a record 23.12 percent, while its 10-year bond yields advanced 1.13 percentage points.

Greek 10-year yields climbed 71 basis points over the week, while the nation’s two-year bond yields soared 2.69 percentage points. Fitch Ratings slashed Greece’s credit rating on July 13 to CCC, its lowest grade, and said that a default is a “real possibility.”

Spain’s 10-year bonds dropped, pushing the yield up 39 basis points to 6.06 percent. Spanish debt may continue to fall next week as the nation prepares to auction 5.5 percent securities maturing in 2021 and 2026 on July 21. It will also sell 12- and 18-month bills on July 19.

German government bonds have handed investors a return of 1.9 percent this year, according to indexes compiled by the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies and Bloomberg, while Italian bonds have lost 2.5 percent. Greece’s debt has dropped 20.33 percent and Spain’s has returned 0.7 percent.

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