Tags: europe | invest | stock

Forgotten But Not Gone: Europe's Debt Crisis

Sunday, 27 Feb 2011 02:55 PM

Financial markets -- and oil in particular -- will doubtless be in thrall in the coming week to Libya and whatever the wave of Middle East and North Africa popular uprisings throws up next.

But the radical change in the Arab world is not the only question mark hanging over investors. Does anyone remember the euro zone debt crisis?

In the current, rather fragile market environment -- and with euro zone leaders still unable to find a permanent aid mechanism -- it might not take much to retrigger the kind of frenzied peripheral bond sell-off seen last year.

Indeed, although nowhere near their peaks of last year, euro zone peripheral yield spreads over German debt have widened in February. Italy has swelled by about 50 basis points and Spain 40 basis points. Significantly, Portuguese five- and 10-year yields remain above 7 percent, levels which previously forced bailouts in Greece and Ireland.

This suggests that a series of debt auctions in the week ahead will be closely watched for what they say about confidence in Europe's finances.

Belgium, which has come under some pressure, auctions 2014, 2018 and 2021 bonds on Monday. Spain, one of the potential hotspots, will auction five-year bonds on Thursday, and investors will be particularly watching a Portuguese buy-back on Wednesday for signs of a fire sale.

The core is not excluded either. The Netherlands goes to market on Tuesday, Germany on Wednesday and France on Thursday. What may make these auctions more noteworthy than usual is that they come in the run-up to a March 11 special euro zone summit that is supposed to come to some agreement over what a permanent debt management mechanism might look like.

A meeting on Friday in Helsinki of centre-right euro zone leaders -- expected to include Germany's Angela Merkel -- may give some kind of flavour.

The results of Ireland's general election and likely coalition formation talks will also be scrutinised for what they say about the bailed-out country's commitment to fiscal austerity.

The widening spreads, meanwhile, suggest investors are getting a little impatient with euro zone leaders over how long they are taking to come up with solid solutions to the problem. Investors are looking for something concrete.

"The market response will be driven around whether it is pain relief or cure," said David Shairp, global strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management."

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Financial markets -- and oil in particular -- will doubtless be in thrall in the coming week to Libya and whatever the wave of Middle East and North Africa popular uprisings throws up next. But the radical change in the Arab world is not the only question mark hanging over...
europe,invest,stock
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2011-55-27
Sunday, 27 Feb 2011 02:55 PM
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