July 16, 2020 / 8:01 AM / 23 days ago

UK seeks to raise record 385 billion pounds from debt markets

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday it would seek to raise 110 billion pounds ($138 billion) from the bond market between September and November, taking total gilt issuance in the first eight months of the financial year to a record 385 billion pounds.

The United Kingdom Debt Management Office is currently on track to raise an unprecedented 275 billion pounds between April and August, financing record borrowing that funds COVID-19 spending, replaces lost tax revenue and repays maturing debt.

Thursday’s announcement represented a slowdown in the record pace of borrowing - dropping to 36.7 billion pounds a month for September to November from an average 55 billion pounds before - and the government hopes for a further easing off.

“The higher volume of issuance seen so far this year due to COVID-19 is not expected to persist over the final four months of the year,” the finance ministry said in a statement alongside the DMO announcement.

The finance ministry also said it was seeking to increase the amount of money raised from its NS&I savings business, which takes money direct from the public, by 29 billion pounds to 35 billion.

Thursday’s borrowing announcement is broadly in line with analysts’ expectations, and there was little immediate market reaction.

Helped by a further 300 billion pounds of Bank of England asset purchases, investors have shown a strong appetite for British government debt since late March.

Yields on two-year debt sank to a record low -0.13% on Tuesday after data showed Britain’s economy made a weaker-than-expected recovery in May from the massive hit from COVID-19 and the associated lockdown.

But the economic damage means Britain could be on course to borrow nearly 400 billion pounds this year, on top of refinancing existing debt, the government’s Office for Budget Responsibility has warned, taking public-sector debt as a share of the economy to its highest since the 1950s.

($1 = 0.7977 pounds)

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Alex Richardson

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