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Risk of Debt Shortage Seen Shaking German Bonds Out of Slumber

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German bonds look set to face a more volatile end to the year after seeing the narrowest quarterly trading range ever.

An increasing shortage of bunds amid slowing government debt sales and continued purchases by the European Central Bank could push benchmark yields below recent ranges in the fourth quarter, according to Citigroup Inc. Strategists at the bank see the German 10-year yield falling to minus 0.6%, compared with the third-quarter average of minus 0.47%.

Uncertainty over the November U.S. election and a resurgence of the coronavirus should spur haven buying of bunds, adding downward pressure on yields, according to Citi.

Strategists Jamie Searle and Aman Bansal estimate monthly debt issuance this quarter by the German finance agency will average 10 billion euros ($12 billion), about 60% less versus the April-September period. That, coupled with central-bank buying under its pandemic debt-purchase program, will likely leave investors scrambling to get hold of the euro area’s safest asset.

The ECB may extend its asset-buying program next year, while Germany’s self-imposed borrowing limits should be back in place by 2022 after a temporary relaxation due to the coronavirus pandemic — and that suggests “bund shortages look set to persist for years,” Searle and Bansal wrote in a note.

Bunds have remained supported in recent months by monetary easing in response to the pandemic’s economic impact, while gains have been capped without the immediate prospect of more interest-rate cuts. That narrowed last quarter’s trading range to the least on record.

Next Week

Euro-area bond sales are set to slow next week with Germany, Austria and Ireland offering securities totaling 6 billion euros, which would be the lowest weekly gross issuance so far this year, according to Commerzbank AG. There are no scheduled coupon or redemption payments.

The European Financial Stability Facility, which is seeking to raise 5 billion euros in the fourth quarter, will sell debt through banks next week. U.K. issuance will total 8.5 billion pounds ($11 billion) across four bonds, one of which is an inflation-linked note.

  • The data schedule for the coming week is thin and mostly relegated to second-tier, backward-looking figures, providing few clues on the state of the region’s economy
    • Euro area Sentix investor confidence for October on Monday is the only forward-looking number; German factory orders for August are published Tuesday, followed by industrial production for the same month Wednesday
    • The U.K.’s data calendar is also light, leaving investors to focus on September construction PMI numbers from Markit/CIPS and monthly GDP for August on Friday
    • BOE Governor Andrew Bailey participates in a panel discussion at the Single Resolution Board’s annual conference

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