Pledges of Euro Support Ease Some Bond Yields
LONDON — Borrowing costs for Spain and Italy eased once again on Monday as officials in the region continued voicing their commitment to supporting the euro currency union.
The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, and the United States Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, issued a joint statement expressing confidence in euro zone members’ efforts to revamp their economies after meeting on the North Sea island of Sylt.
And Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minister and the head of the Eurogroup of 17 euro zone finance ministers, added his support in comments published Monday in Le Figaro in France and Süddeutsche Zeitung in Germany.
“The euro zone is at a point where it must prove, with all its means, its determination to guarantee stability,” Mr. Juncker said, adding that “no one should doubt the collective will of the 17 countries.”
Mr. Geithner was to meet Monday evening in Frankfurt with the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who incited a market rally last Thursday by saying the central bank would do “whatever it takes” to support the euro.
In fact, given the three-session rally in European stocks since then, the market could be set up for a significant drop if there was no sign of a big move after the central bank’s governing council meeting on Thursday.
If anything, the European tour by Mr. Geithner is a visible reminder that the euro crisis, which began in early 2010, is having global repercussions.
Mr. Draghi is trying to win support for a move by the central bank to help Italy and Spain finance government debt at lower rates than the bond markets had been allowing lately. Since he stated his intention, the Italian treasury was able to auction 4.73 billion euros, or $5.79 billion, worth of five- and 10-year bonds at reduced costs on Monday.
The yield, or interest rate, paid on 10-year debt was 5.96 percent, down from 6.19 percent on June 28, while five-year bonds were priced to yield 5.29 percent, compared with 5.84 percent last month.
In market trading, Spain’s 10-year bond yield fell Monday, to 6.53 percent, nearly a full percentage point lower than where it traded last week before Mr. Draghi’s pledge of support.
But pledges and investor enthusiasm cannot mask fundamental problems.
The difficulties confronting Spain, which is imposing strict measures to curb its deficit while dealing with a banking crisis, were underlined Monday when new data showed that it had slid deeper into recession in the second quarter. The Spanish economy shrank 0.4 percent from the previous quarter, after contracting 0.3 percent in the first. The economy was 1 percent smaller than it had been a year earlier, according to the data.
And in Greece, which is still trying to secure its next installment of bailout money from international lenders, a meeting of leaders of the coalition government Monday evening ended without a final decision on the 11.5 billion euros in budget savings for 2013 and 2014.
The cuts have been demanded by the creditors in exchange for further rescue aid for Greece. The two junior partners in the tripartite coalition are reluctant to impose further cuts to pensions and social benefits on austerity-weary Greeks.
The office of the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, released no comment immediately.
Envoys representing the troika of Greece’s international lenders — the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund — announced Sunday that they were extending their mission to Athens indefinitely to help government leaders complete a “credible package” of savings.
Over the last two years, the troika has given Greece two loan deals worth 240 billion euros but has expressed frustration at the Greek authorities’ slow adoption of overhauls they had promised in return for the aid.