* Benchmark 10-year bond yield falls to lowest in two months
* State-run banks refuse to lend bonds in repo on surplus
* Traders cut loss after massive short positions left
By Suvashree Choudhury
MUMBAI, April 3 India's benchmark 10-year bond
rallied to its highest level in two months, as traders who had
shorted the debt rushed to cover positions by buying the paper
in spot markets after being unable to secure them through the
inter-bank repo market.
The scramble for bonds came after some traders on Friday
shorted the 6.97 percent bond due in 2026 and
needed to secure the bonds on Monday to settle their trades.
Typically traders don't need to buy the debt outright, they
can instead borrow the bonds to settle the trades. But state-run
banks on Monday refused to lend out bonds in the repo market,
forcing the traders with short positions to buy the debt in spot
markets in what is known as a "repo squeeze".
As a result, the 2026 bond yield fell as much as 14 basis
points to 6.55 percent, its lowest since Feb. 8, from Friday's
close of 6.69 percent.
It rose to 6.59 percent later in the day, as banks started
lending out some of the securities in repo markets.
Banks reluctant to lend out cash said they didn't need more
funds since the sector was already flush with cash, after a ban
on higher-value banknotes last year led to a surge in deposits.
"If I add more to the cash...I will have to answer to my top
management and there will be an audit of my positions as well,"
said a senior treasury official at a large state-run bank,
declining to be named given the sensitivity of the issue.
"Why should I take such headache to make money for just one
The incidents on Monday mark the latest repo squeeze to take
place in India since the note ban. The last repo squeeze took
place on March 3.
The short positions were placed on Friday as some traders
bet prices would fall after state-run banks bought 150 billion
rupees ($2.31 billion) of bonds in the last day of the 2016/17
Traders predicted the bond rally would likely reverse itself
once the short positions are settled, with caution likely to
grow ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's policy meeting on
Thursday. Most analysts expect no changes in interest rates.
"Everyone is scrambling to meet their delivery obligations
today to avoid a regulatory default but there are no stocks
available," said a senior official at a primary dealership firm.
($1 = 64.8700 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Suvashree Dey Choudhury; Editing by Randy Fabi)