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Investors seek eurozone havens as Trump ups pressure on China

Final PMI shows stronger Germany, though slow growth in bloc

By Reuters - May 06,2019 - Last updated at May 06,2019

Two Euro coins are seen at the Money Service Austria company's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2017 (Reuters file photo)

LONDON — Core eurozone bonds yields fell on Monday as investors sought safe havens after US President Donald Trump threatened to raise tariffs on China, while PMI data pointed to anaemic growth in the eurozone.

Trump's move marked an escalation in tensions between the world's largest economies and a shift in tone from the president, who had cited progress in trade talks as recently as Friday.

Global equity markets fell, with China's main indexes down 5 per cent. Treasuries rallied after Trump said tariffs on $200 billion of goods would rise on Friday to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

Trump also said he would target a further $325 billion of Chinese goods with 25 per cent tariffs "shortly", essentially covering all products imported to the United States from China.

Germany's 10-year government bond yield, the benchmark for the region hit a low of -0.008 per cent, turning negative for the first time since April 30. It was last down one basis point on the day to 0.01 per cent. 

"Everyone was quite optimistic that they were close to a deal…," said Daniel Lenz, rates strategist at DZ Bankit. Trump's threat "may cause the opposite action, talks might come to a stop, which is the fear everyone has".

Most other core 10-year yields in the bloc fell by up to two basis points before pulling back to trade flat on the day.

Data on Monday painted a mixed picture of eurozone economic growth. Germany's services stood out among a gloomier bloc-wide report from research firm Markit's final purchasing manager data for April. 

German services created jobs in April at the fastest rate in more than a decade, offsetting deteriorating manufacturing, the data showed. But overall, weakness in eurozone manufacturing increasingly affected the dominant services industry.

IHS Markit's Eurozone Composite Final Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), considered a good measure of overall economic health, dipped to 51.5 in April from March's 51.6.

However, overall investor improved for the third month in a row, reaching its highest since November 2018, the Sentix research group said on Monday.

 

Italy in focus 

 

Italian government bonds underperformed the rest of the periphery. Concerns about the stability of the Italian government added to worries about global trade. 

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio said on Monday a graft case involving a junior minister from the ruling League Party would trigger a government crisis only if the League itself pushed for it.

Italy's short-dated bonds were up to six basis points higher before pulling back to around three basis points up on the day. The spread of its 10-year debt over Germany's widened to nearly 260 basis points for the first time since April 30, before pulling back to 255 basis
points.

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