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UPDATE 1-Australia to issue $170 bln debt in 2020/21 as govt spending surges

(Adds economist comment)

SYDNEY, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The Australian government will issue bonds worth A$240 billion ($170.4 billion) in the current financial year, surprisingly unchanged from earlier projections despite a massive increase in spending to bolster the coronavirus-ravaged economy.

The Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM), which manages the government’s debt, said on Wednesday the weekly bond tender would be between A$3 billion and A$4 billion in most weeks for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year, from A$4-A$5 billion now.

The AOFM added that A$117 billion of the A$240 billion expected issuances for the year-ending June 2021 has already been undertaken.

“An unchanged issuance task and no new bonds this calendar year mean a flatter curve and tighter spreads,” said Robert Thompson, Sydney-based rates strategist at RBC.

AOFM’s unchanged issuance target comes despite a larger-than-expected budget deficit estimate for the 2020/21 fiscal year of A$213.7 billion announced on Tuesday.

The AOFM now has more than A$100 billion on deposit with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which has been buying three-year government debt in the secondary market since mid-March to help keep borrowing costs low.

“The super-sized buffer seems to have allowed the AOFM to hold off on any task increases,” Thompson added.

“It also reinforces our suspicion that the AOFM took a much more conservative approach than Treasury back in July in forecasting debt raising requirements.”

Yields on three-year government bonds slipped for a second straight day to 0.145% on Wednesday, much lower than the RBA’s cash rate target of 0.25%.

Yields on the 10-year paper eased to 0.8% in anticipation long-term rates will remain low for some while yet.

The RBA has said it would keep policy accommodative until progress is being made toward full employment and inflation is back within its medium-term range of 2% to 3%.

Economists are widely expecting a 15 basis point cut to 0.1% at the RBA’s next policy meeting in November.

$1 = 1.4086 Australian dollars Reporting by Swati Pandey; Additional reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Kim Coghill

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