Government bond yields in Cyprus tumbled on Wednesday and stood out as the star performer in euro zone debt markets, a day after a 15-year bond sale drew solid demand in a further sign of progress for a country that exited its bailout in 2016.
Broader bond markets were little moved bar Italy, where yields continued to push higher on concern about a weak economy and caution ahead of a Fitch Ratings review on Friday.
Cyprus took the spotlight after selling its longest ever bond issue via a syndicate of banks on Tuesday. The new 1 billion euro issue saw more than 8 billion euros worth of demand from investors, according to International Financing Review.
The Mediterranean island has made steady progress to returning to raise funding on capital markets in recent years.
Last year S&P Global lifted the country’s credit rating to investment grade, paving the way for the European Central Bank to start buying Cypriot bonds under its stimulus scheme.
Reinvestments from maturing bonds the ECB holds should benefit the Cypriot bond market this year, analysts say.
Tuesday’s auction, the latest in a string of successful syndicated bond deals in the euro area, provided another impetus for Cypriot bond yields to push lower.
Five-year bond yields fell as much as 20 basis points in early trade before pulling back to 0.81 percent — down 7 bps on the day.
Ten-year Cypriot bond yields fell 8 bps to a low of 1.88 percent and seven-year bond yields fell to 1.277 percent — their lowest since November 2017.
“Cyprus is no longer considered a weak spot,” said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann.
“It is a small market but the syndicated issue this week does offer an interesting pick up and given the new stability is viewed as attractive.”
Elsewhere, Italian bond yields were up to seven bps higher on the day . The Italian/German 10-year bond yield gap widened to 273 bps as investors shrugged off supportive comments from ECB chief economist Peter Praet.
Praet said the ECB will discuss “very soon” whether to provide a new round of multi-year loans to banks but may not immediately decide on their terms.
“Investors are cautious towards Italian bonds — they know the economic outlook is not ideal and we don’t know what kind of support we’ll get from the ECB,” said Luca Cazzulani, rates strategist at UniCredit in Milan.
“We have the Fitch Ratings decision on Friday, which is adding to the caution.”
Germany’s 10-year Bund yield meanwhile edged down to stand at around 0.09 percent — keeping recent lows in sight .