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5 months ago
Investors shed euro zone bonds on further signs of economic strength
March 24, 2017 / 8:55 AM / 5 months ago

Investors shed euro zone bonds on further signs of economic strength

* Euro govt bond yields rise 1-4 bps across the board

* German and French business activity expand more than expected

* PMI numbers due out for the entire bloc at 0900 GMT

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields tmsnrt.rs/2ii2Bqr

By Abhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - Investors sold euro zone government bonds on Friday on expectations that private sector activity data would show further signs of economic growth, thereby strengthening the case for a withdrawal of monetary stimulus.

Despite uncertainty over a delayed U.S. healthcare vote that may have implications for the "Trumpflation" trade, euro zone government bond yields rose 1-4 basis points on Friday.

The rise came as data showed French and German business activity expanded more than expected in March and ahead of the release of equivalent data for the entire single currency bloc at 0900 GMT.

Any reading above 50 on the PMI index suggests expansion, and the French number was 57.6 and the German was 57.0 while the euro zone equivalent is expected to be 55.8, according to a Reuters poll.

"With the PMIs expected to come in quite strongly, I think it will be a confirmation of the economic strength in the euro zone, and that means there's more of a case for the ECB to tighten (monetary policy)," said DZ Bank strategist Christian Lenk.

Euro zone inflation surged to a four-year high in February, zooming past the European Central Bank's target and piling pressure on rate setters to open talks about when and how extraordinary stimulus measures will be scaled back.

This has seen bond yields rise inexorably since, with the yield on Germany's 10-year bonds, the benchmark for region, rising 19 basis points in March so far. It was up 1.5 bps on Friday to 0.44 percent.

Other high-rated bond yields were up 1-2 basis points, while lower-rated South European countries saw government bond yields rise 3-4 bps.

The likes of Italy, Spain and Portugal generally move most on expectations of tightening as they are seen as the biggest beneficiaries of the European Central Bank's bond buying scheme.

TRUMPFLATION DOUBTS

The rise in yields came despite the fact that doubt has been cast over U.S. President Donald Trump's ability to deliver fiscal stimulus measures promised during his election campaign last year.

The success of a key healthcare bill later on Friday will be a signal of whether Trump can get growth and inflation-boosting measures passed into law in the world's richest country.

Global bond yields and stock markets have risen sharply since December on expectations of "Trumpflation", but U.S. stocks suffered their biggest daily fall since June earlier this week.

"I am hesitant to read too much into the bond moves while this healthcare reform measure is hanging over the market," said Lenk.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Editing by Hugh Lawson

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