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Bond Risk Drops in Asia and Australia, Credit-Default Swaps Show

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) --The cost of insuring corporate and sovereign bonds from non-payment declined in the Asia-Pacific region, according to credit-default swap traders.

The Markit iTraxx Australia dropped 2 basis points to 153 at 10:54 a.m. in Sydney, National Australia Bank Ltd. prices show. The gauge is on course for the lowest closing level since April 6, according to data provider CMA.

The Markit iTraxx Asia index of 40 investment-grade borrowers outside Japan fell 2 basis points to 147.5 as of 8:52 a.m. in Hong Kong, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc prices show. The index is set for the lowest close since Aug. 10, according to CMA, which is owned by McGraw-Hill Cos. and compiles prices quoted by dealers in the privately negotiated market.

The Markit iTraxx Japan index was little changed at 186 basis points as of 9:48 a.m. in Tokyo, Citigroup Inc. prices show. The benchmark has traded between 184 and 207 basis points this month, CMA prices show.

Credit-default swap indexes are benchmarks for insuring bonds against default and traders use them to speculate on credit quality. A drop signals improving perceptions of creditworthiness, while an increase suggests the opposite.

The swap contracts pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities if a borrower fails to meet its debt agreements. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Henry Sanderson in Beijing at hsanderson@bloomberg.net; Wendy Mock in Hong Kong at wmock3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shelley Smith at ssmith118@bloomberg.net

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