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Italy Sells 9 Billion Euros of Bills as Rates Rise on Contagion

Italy Sells 9 Billion Euros of Bills as Rates Rise on Contagion
National flags of Italy hang above stalls at an indoor market in Rome. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Italy sold 9 billion euros ($11.2 billion) of Treasury bills at the highest rate since December amid concerns a European Union summit this week will fail to solve the sovereign-debt crisis.

The Rome-based Treasury sold the 185-day bills at 2.957 percent, up from 2.104 percent at the last sale of similar-maturity debt on May 29. Investors bid for 1.62 times the amount offered, similar to the 1.61 times last month.

The yield on Italy’s 10-year bond fell 5 basis points to 6.14 percent at 11:07 a.m. in Rome, leaving the difference with German bunds to 460 basis points. A bigger test for the Italian treasury comes tomorrow when Italy sells as much as 5.5 billion euros of longer-maturity debt.

The two-day EU summit in Brussels starting tomorrow is the first meeting of European leaders since Greek parliamentary elections on June 17 that saw victories for pro-bailout parties. France and Italy are urging Germany to take decisive action to end the debt crisis, including collectively selling debt to bring down borrowing costs. German Chancellor Angela Merkel doused expectations of an agreement yesterday, when she said there would be no so-called euro bonds in her lifetime.

The meeting comes after Spain formally requested a bailout for its banks on June 25 and Cyprus also sought a financial lifeline from the euro area’s bailout funds, becoming the fourth and fifth of the currency union’s 17 member states to require external aid after Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

The summit will be “very difficult,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti told lawmakers in Rome yesterday. “I am ready to stay beyond the expected end of the meeting and to work until Sunday night, if needed.”

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