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Italy's imminent bonds sales key measure of economic strength

(Xinhua)

08:11, August 28, 2012

ROME, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- In what could be seen as a "pure measure" of investor sentiment vis-a-vis its economy, Italy will be the only country in the European Union to issue new bonds this week.

Bond sales in Europe have significantly slowed during the August summer break. With question marks hanging over at least half a dozen European economies, the September restart of full-scale bond sales all across the eurozone could be decisive for the future of the euro as a currency. But in the meantime, only Italy will test the waters of debt markets in end-August.

Italy plans to offer a small issue of zero-coupon notes and inflation-linked bonds on Tuesday, followed on Wednesday by six-month treasury bills, and then a round of treasury notes on Thursday. Italy normally issues new debt at the end of each month, but the summer break has created the unusual circumstance in which it is the only European government proceeding with a significant issue this week.

"In many ways, this will be pure measure of interest in Italian debt issues because there will be no alternatives elsewhere for investors," said Hildebrandt and Ferrar chief economist Javier Noriega.

"The outcome of the auctions will be an important test for Italy, given the recent turbulence in cross-country spreads," said Annalisa Piazza, an economist with Newedge brokerage.

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