25 Nov 2011

Europe's soveriegn debt problems knock NZ govt bond sale

7:31 am on 25 November 2011

Fresh upheaval in Europe's sovereign debt markets knocked demand at the last Government bond sale before the election.

It followed the German government's failure to sell all of its bonds at an auction, a first since joining the euro.

Germany has admitted it only placed €3.6 billion worth of 10 year bonds at its latest auction, despite offering €6 billion.

That sparked fears that some investors are becoming sceptical about the European powerhouse's ability to financially back its struggling neighbours.

The Debt Management Office's head Philip Combes says that meant a lower level of bids for the bonds on offer at Thursday's sale in New Zealand.

He says bid cover was down on the average of previous sales and it had been below average the previous week as well.

Mr Combes says nonetheless they managed to issue $450 million of bonds, which was what they were aiming for.

He says skittery investors are increasing their holdings of cash in the short term.

But Mr Combes says they could soon look at New Zealand Government debt if they are not persuaded to get back into European bonds.

That would have the effect of pushing down the Government's already very low borrowing costs.

Mr Combes says Saturday's election had no discernible effect on the level of demand for bonds at Thursday's sale.