ECB action prospects underpin Italian bond auction

City A.M. Reporter
A successful Italian bond auction on Thursday pointed to growing confidence among investors that the European Central Bank (ECB) will live up to its words and take measures to change the course of the currency bloc's debt crisis.

In Beijing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to temper China's fears about the damage the crisis could wreak on the world economy, enough to elicit an undertaking that China would, under certain conditions, buy more euro zone bonds.

Since ECB President Mario Draghi vowed a month ago to do whatever it takes to save the euro, Spanish and Italian bond yields have fallen markedly, particularly for shorter-dated maturities. Now he has to follow through.

At a policy meeting next week Draghi is expected to reveal the ECB's terms of engagement for intervening in the bond market, reconciling a resistant German Bundesbank to the plan while avoiding conditions that will scupper its effectiveness.

Credible ECB action to lower Italian and Spanish borrowing costs would buy the two countries time to reduce their debt and push through economic reforms to boost growth potential.

Italy sold €7.29bn (£4.6bn) at its first auction in a month, and shifted the maximum targeted amount of a new 10-year bond at a yield well under its six per cent pain threshold.