Investors seek safety as euro zone debt worries grow

  • Business
  • Friday, 20 Apr 2012

LONDON (Reuters): German 10-year bond yields hit record lows on Friday and riskier assets came under pressure on growing fears about the euro zone debt crisis and uncertainty over global growth.

A weekend featuring a potentially rocky meeting of the International Monetary Fund, which is seeking to boost its funds to help contain Europe's problems, and the first round of a French presidential election have heightened the nervousness.

Weak U.S. unemployment and factory activity data on Thursday also renewed doubts about growth, sending Wall St lower and hitting commodity-related currencies during Asian trading.

“The context of the fragility on the economic side ... (and) the political situation with the election in France means risky assets are under pressure,” said BNP Paribas strategist Patrick Jacq.

German 10-year yields hit a new all-time low of 1.597 percent, while riskier Spanish 10-year yields broke above the key 6 percent level.

The FTSE Eurofirst index of top European shares opened down 0.2 percent at 1039.47, in line with fall in the MSCI world equity index, which was down 0.1 percent at 324.57 and off around 3 percent for the month.

Against the dollar, the euro maintained the stable path it has been on this month to be virtually unchanged at $1.3146, though it was slightly softer against other currencies.

The dollar measured against a basket of major currencies was also little changed though it gained against the yen on expectations the Bank of Japan will ease policy further next week.

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