August 23, 2019 / 7:28 AM / a month ago

Euro zone bond yields rise before Powell speaks at Jackson Hole

LONDON (Reuters) - Most euro zone bond yields rose on Friday to their highest in more than a week as investors scaled back expectations for aggressive U.S. rate cuts before a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell later in the day.

FILE PHOTO - A trader looks at his screens on the Unicredit Bank trading floor in downtown Milan June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Two Federal Reserve officials said on Thursday they saw no reason to cut rates without new economic deterioration, a day after Fed meeting minutes showed policymakers disagreed on the rate cut last month.

Along with slightly improved data in the euro area and over-stretched positions in global bond markets, that encouraged some selling before Powell speaks, analysts said.

“There’s been no jaw-dropping news this week, but we have had incrementally less bond-friendly news - the FOMC minutes, the euro area PMIs, and Fed speakers in recent days that give the impression that July was an insurance rate cut,” said John Davies, G10 rates strategist at Standard Chartered Bank.

“This has dragged the market away from speculating about a 25- to 50-basis-point rate cut in September to a discussion on a 25 bps cut to `will they cut rates’, so a bit more uncertainty has been injected into markets.”

Across the euro area, 10-year bond yields were 2 to 3 basis points higher on the day.

Germany’s 10-year bond yield rose to -0.603% DE10YT-RR, its highest in just over a week and a half; U.S. 10-year Treasury yields rose 5 bps to 1.66% US10YT=RR; and Britain’s 10-year gilt yield rose to a three-week high around 0.57% GB10YT=RR.

Powell is due to speak at a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, expected at 1400 GMT.

The Fed chief is caught between discord within the U.S. central bank over appropriate monetary policy and mounting outside pressure for more interest rate cuts.

Bucking the trend in euro zone bond markets, Italian yields edged lower on hopes that snap elections in the euro zone’s third-biggest economy can be avoided.

President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday gave Italy’s bickering parties five days to clinch a deal to resolve a political crisis and avoid an election.

“Since the resignation of (Giuseppe) Conte as prime minister on Tuesday, the outperformance of BTPs has gathered momentum, which suggests there is hope a government will be formed and a budget will be in place,” said Pooja Kumra, European rates strategist at TD Securities.

“The situation is still tricky, although BTPs still have positive yields compared to other European government bonds, so that is supportive.”

The 10-year Italian bond yield dipped to around 1.32% IT10YT=RR, close to its lowest in almost three years. The gap over German bond yields narrowed to around 190 bps, its tightest in four weeks DE10IT10=RR.

Italy's 10-year bond yield gap with Gerrmany - here

Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; editing by Larry King

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