Bond yields drop most since 2013 on Modi govt’s surprise borrowing plan
Lower bond sales ease one of the biggest worries for traders, who have been concerned about the government’s near-record borrowing as state-run banks, the main buyers of sovereign notes, stay awaybusiness Updated: Mar 27, 2018 12:35 IST
Traders in the embattled Indian sovereign bond market finally have something to cheer.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in a surprise move announced Rs 2.88 trillion ($44.5 billion) of bond sales in the six months starting April 1, or about 48% of its annual borrowing plan, lower than the 60% to 65% in previous years. The yield on the benchmark 10-year bonds plunged 25 basis points to 7.37%, set for its biggest slide since November 2013.
Lower bond sales ease one of the biggest worries for traders, who have been concerned about the government’s near-record borrowing as state-run banks, the main buyers of sovereign notes, stay away. Talks are also in progress with the central bank to raise limits for foreign investments in rupee debt, according to Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg.
“This is the first step toward sustainable bull rally in bonds,” said Sandeep Bagla, associate director at Trust Capital Services India Pvt in Mumbai. “This is an extremely smart move by the government, realizing the ground realities. This will lay ground for a handsome rally in bonds.”
The longest run of losses in India’s bond market since 1998 has been spurred by a vicious cocktail of rising debt supply, hardening global yields and the prospect of higher interest rates. Concerned by the sell-off, the finance ministry last week met primary dealers to assess the market’s mood before the auctions, which normally begin in the first week of April.
State-run lenders have been sellers of an average Rs 5.09 billion of sovereign bonds every day this year, data from the Clearing Corp. of India show. They bought an average 368 million rupees of debt daily in 2017. At the same time, overseas holdings of Indian government and corporate notes are set to decline for a second month.
Market participants are also speculating that policymakers will raise the limit for foreign investment in sovereign debt from the current 5% of the total outstanding.
The benchmark 10-year yield climbed 126 basis points in the last seven months. The surge has threatened to boost borrowing costs for Modi’s government and prompt a repeat of a recent situation when it had to pare the size of few auctions and scrap others.
“They want to ensure that the overall interest-rate structure in the economy remains well behaved,” said Vijay Sharma, executive vice president for fixed-income at PNB Gilts Ltd in New Delhi. “If the yields keep going up, then all other rates in the economy go up. The bearish sentiment takes a backseat for now and we can see positive moves in bonds.”