20 May 2012

Investors flock to NZ Government bonds as safe haven

10:03 am on 20 May 2012

New Zealand's increasing appeal as an investment safe haven has helped push down the Government's borrowing costs to a new record low.

The interest rate on the benchmark April 2023 Government bond fell to 3.66% at Thursday's weekly auction.

Bids worth $700 million were received for $200 million worth of bonds offered by the Debt Management Office.

Market-watchers had been looking for signs that investors are opting out of local bonds after yields fell to record lows in recent weeks.

Last week's sale failed to attract any bids for the Government's 2019 bond, the biggest shortfall in nearly five years.

Westpac strategist Imre Speizer says last week's poor sale now looks like an aberration.

Minutes before the auction there was a surprise result from Australian employment data which caused interest rates to rise and bond prices to fall.

"It really put people off buying bonds when the prices were falling in front of their eyes, so that's why last week we think the tender failed.

"We didn't expect that to happen again this time, in fact we thought we'd get a fairly good appetite for it with the escalation of the euro zone crisis - and we did indeed."

Mr Speizer says Thursday's auction was a continued flow into New Zealand's Government bond markets from offshore central banks which are parking their central reserves in high yielding, but what they consider to be safe assets.