China to sell first negative-yielding gov’t bond

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    BEIJING/LONDON- China was set to sell its first negative-yielding government bond yesterday, becoming the latest to benefit from this year’s plunge in interest rates in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Beijing was poised to sell a 750 million euro ($887.93 million) 5-year bond that, at 30 basis points (bps) above the so-called mid-swap rate of -0.45 percent, effectively offered investors a -0.15 percent interest rate.

    The three-part deal also consisted of a 2 billion euro 10-year bond priced at 55 bps over the mid-swap rate and a 1.25 billion euro 15-year issue priced at 70 bps over the mid-swap rate, according to a document from a lead manager of the deal.

    “Negative yields are part of an overall global trend now,” said Daniel Moreno, head of emerging markets debt at Mirabaud, adding there was now roughly $17 trillion worth of sub-zero debt globally. “I think we are going to see much more of this”.

    Global interest rates have been pushed to record lows by the coronavirus crisis. Nearly all short- and medium-term euro zone government debt now carry negative rates, meaning investors effectively pay to hold it.

    China has been steadily building its capital markets in recent years. Offering bonds in alternative currencies to the yuan or US dollar is seen as an important part of that process.

    The deal also comes amid a rush of demand for emerging-market debt following this month’s COVID-19 vaccine breakthroughs and US election win for Democrat Joe Biden, which has lifted hopes that US-China trade tensions will ease.

    US President Donald Trump’s administration imposed new sanctions on China just last week. They effectively stop US-based investors from buying the debt or shares of a number of Chinese companies.

    China’s finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday’s bond sale.