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Spanish report Spanish report
by Euro Reporter
2012-05-04 07:46:16
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Spain meets bond auction target as French borrowing costs fall

Spanish bonds gained after the Treasury met its target at a debt sale, while French costs declined at an auction, easing concern that the countries will struggle to finance their borrowings. The Spanish Treasury sold 2.52 billion Euros ($3.31 billion) of bonds, exceeding its maximum target. Still, Spain had to pay 4.037 percent to sell debt for three years, up from 2.617 percent at a March 1 sale.

The auction was the first long-term debt sale since Standard & Poor's lowered the nation's credit rating last week, leaving Spain three notches from junk status. The effect of the European Central Bank's 1 trillion-euro three-year refinancing operation is also fading, leaving a clearer indication of demand. "This is a proper, good, honest market now," Peter Chatwell, a bond analyst at Credit Agricole SA in London, said in a telephone interview. "Expectations of big, blow-out auctions need to disappear. The yields are all sub-5 percent, that's a comfortable level."

The yield on Spain's existing five-year benchmark declined 7 basis points to 4.7 percent at 12 p.m. in Madrid, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond fell 3 basis point to 5.82 percent. Spain also sold two five-year bonds at 4.752 percent and 4.96 percent. France held its final auction before the nation chooses its next president in a final round of voting on May 6. The Treasury sold 3.32 billion Euros of 10-year bonds at an average yield of 2.96 percent, down from 2.98 percent on April 5, as part of an auction of 7.43 billion Euros of government debt.

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Spain can finance itself, even if expensive

Spain can finance itself on the capital markets even though its interest rates are high, Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said. “We are watching it very closely, in terms of the financial capacity,” Fekter told reporters before a meeting of European Union finance chiefs in Brussels today. “Spain can still get money on the capital markets, even if it’s expensive.”

Spain’s 10-year borrowing costs have jumped 1 percentage point to 5.85 percent since the government said in early March that it wouldn’t meet its 2012 budget deficit target, set by the European Commission, as the economy sinks into its second recession since 2009. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party government, in power since December, has tightened rules to force lenders to recognize deeper real-estate losses, in a bid to convince the bond market that bank losses won’t overburden public finances.

“Spanish banks are above even the strictest Basel III ratios concerning the levels and the quality of capital,” Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said in Brussels today. “Spanish banks are among the least indebted, guaranteeing their solvency and capacity to withstand the crisis.” De Guindos said on April 30 that he expected more bank mergers and efforts to clean up balance sheets. He reiterated that Spain won’t seek a European bailout for its lenders.

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Spain jobs fury fuels May Day protests

Protesters massed in May Day street rallies across Spain on Tuesday, venting anger over austerity, job reforms and an unemployment rate topping 24 percent. Unions, infuriated by a string of reforms introduced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government since taking power in December last year, called protests in some 80 cities. Tens of thousands marched to Madrid's central square Puerta del Sol, cradle of the “indignant” uprising against unemployment, financial and political corruption and a popular perception of powerlessness. Rallying behind a banner reading: “They want to end it all: Work, Dignity, Rights”, the protesters poured through the capital in bigger numbers than in previous May Day rallies.

At the culmination of the march in the Puerta del Sol, Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, secretary-general of the major Workers Commissions union, decried the labour reforms making it easier and cheaper to lay off workers. “Nearly a million workers across Spain are in the streets saying 'No' to this way of understanding labour relations,” the union leader said. His numbers could not be verified. “This is an expression of peaceful, firm, democratic rebellion against an attack on public services, employment, and social rights,” said Candido Mendez, secretary-general of the General Workers Union. Many in the street told stories of hardship that lie behind Spain's stark statistics: a 24.44 percent unemployment rate, the highest in the industrialised world, 52.0 percent of the young out of work, and 5.6 million people jobless overall. “My daughters have no work,” said 51-year-old Josefa Martinez Fernandez. “The young who had work have been thrown out.”

Protesters marched across the country from Seville, to Valencia and Spain's second-largest city Barcelona where unions claimed some 100 000 participants but police estimated 15 000. “This May 1 is stained by the ridiculous austerity policies and the excessive cuts, but they will have to reckon with the people who are indignant and ready to come into the street when necessary,” said Beatriz Casaus, an unemployed 35-year-old nurse in Barcelona. In Barcelona, protesters marched to the main Plaza de la Catedral, where union leaders vowed to fight the labour reforms. In Madrid, too, unions vowed not to give up. “May 1 is not the end,” said Toxo.



         
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