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Euro zone bond yields rise as traders, banks ramp up ECB rate hike bets

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 20 Euro banknotes are seen in a picture illustration, August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

By Yoruk Bahceli

(Reuters) -Euro zone bond yields rose on Friday as traders further ramped up bets on European Central Bank rate hikes this year.

Minutes from the ECB’s latest policy meeting, which were more hawkish than expected, had already pushed yields higher after they were published on Thursday.

The minutes showed some policymakers wanted to go further than ending bond purchases at some point in the third quarter by setting a firm end-date.

Traders moved to price in over 65 basis points of ECB rate hikes by the end of the year, compared to around 60 bps before the minutes were released.

Expectations for rate hikes next year have also moved sharply higher. For example markets are betting rates will rise to around 1.15% in July 2023, up from around 0.95% at the start of the month.

Banks are also adjusting their calls.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), which had cut its call following the invasion of Ukraine, and Danske Bank now expect the ECB to deliver 25 basis-point hikes in both September and December.

Societe Generale (PA:SOGN) moved to the same forecast on Thursday.

“The economic backdrop since the last meeting has moved further towards a stagflationary scenario in the euro area, with weakening growth, higher uncertainty, lower confidence and higher inflation,” Danske’s analysts said in a client note.

“However, the increasing risk of unanchored inflation expectations and second round effects on wages will keep the pressure on ECB to proceed with its policy normalisation despite rising recession risks.”

Goldman Sachs economists said that a hike might come already in July if the demand hit from the Ukraine invasion turned out smaller than expected and there were clear signs of second-round inflation effects.

Germany’s two-year yield, which is sensitive to interest rate expectations, was up 6 bps by 1446 GMT at 0.036%.

The 10-year Bund yield, the benchmark for the euro area, was up 2.7 bps at 0.71%.

A key market gauge of long-term euro zone inflation expectations continued surging and hit the highest since early 2013 at 2.3532%.

French and Italian debt underperformed as investors remained focused on Sunday’s first-round French presidential vote. Bond yields move inversely with prices.

Markets this week started to acknowledge the possibility of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen beating incumbent Emmanuel Macron as her surge in the polls brought that outcome within the margins of error.

The French 10-year yield was up 5.3 bps after rising to the highest since mid-2015 at 1.296%.

Italian 10-year yields were up similarly after touching the highest since March 2020 at 2.421%. The closely-watched gap over German peers to 169.6 bps, the highest in a week.

Euro zone bond yields rise as traders, banks ramp up ECB rate hike bets

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