June 1, 2017 / 7:54 AM / 6 months ago

Euro zone bond sales nudge yields away from multi-month lows

* France and Spain sell 14 bn euros of debt

* Yields tend to rise around bond sales

* But investors have eyes on ECB meeting next week

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields tmsnrt.rs/2ii2Bqr

By John Geddie

LONDON, June 1 (Reuters) - Euro zone bond markets came under some selling pressure on Thursday as countries prepared to auction debt but benchmark yields did not stray far from multi-month troughs hit after a low inflation print earlier this week.

France and Spain could auction nearly 14 billion euros of debt on Thursday, sales that pushed up yields on outstanding bonds as investors made room in their portfolios for the new supply.

But the moves were relatively muted as investors had one eye on the European Central Bank’s meeting next week at which it is expected to strike a cautious tone about future tightening of policy because of doubts around inflation.

Preliminary data on Wednesday showed euro area inflation fell below expectations to 1.4 percent in May, well below the ECB’s near 2 percent target and compared to 1.9 percent in April.

“Inflation this month is...consistent with what ECB officials have been saying in public in advance of that meeting; despite strengthening growth, broad inflation pressures remained weak,” RBC’s global macro strategist Peter Schaffrik said.

“While we are likely to see the ECB’s economic assessment upgraded, in the forward guidance, we expect that the ECB will maintain its overall dovish stance next week.”

German 10-year bond yields - the bloc’s benchmark - rose 1 basis point on Thursday to 0.31 percent, but remained not far from the 0.286 percent hit Wednesday, its lowest in over a month.

Spanish yields rose around 2 basis points to 2.20 percent, but remain close to four-month lows hit Wednesday. French equivalents were up 1 basis point at 0.73 percent having hit 0.705 percent on Wednesday, their lowest since Jan. 3.

Spain will sell up to 750 million euros of an inflation-linked bond maturing in 2030 alongside up to 4.5 billion euros of 2021 and 2026 bonds.

France will sell 7.5-8.5 billion euros of bonds maturing in 2027, 2032 and 2039.

ECB policymakers are set to take a more benign view of the economy when they meet on June 8 and will even discuss dropping some of their pledges to ramp up stimulus if needed, sources told Reuters.

But some disagree on how quickly the central bank should change its policy stance and ECB chief Mario Draghi said on Tuesday that an “extraordinary amount” of monetary policy support is still needed because of weak inflation.

ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny added on Wednesday that inflation rates might remain low in the long term and the ECB’s target is therefore likely to be questioned.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Toby Chopra

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