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Business

Italy, Spain enjoy sharply lower borrowing costs

Debt-stricken eurozone members Italy and Spain have seen yields on their short and medium-term sovereign bonds easing. The results of the latest auctions are largely based on hopes of ECB intervention, though.

Italy on Tuesday raised 3.75 billion euros ($4.69 billion) at a sale of sovereign debt, with borrowing rates sharply down from previous levels. The rate on return earned by buyers of Italian bonds due to mature in 2014 dipped to 3.064 percent from 4.86 percent at the last similar auction on July 26.

Borrowing costs also went down for Spain, which managed to collect 3.6 billion euros in the latest round of auctions on Tuesday. The rate on three-month bills dropped to 0.946 percent from 2.434 percent on July 24, while yields on six-month bills decreased to 2.026 percent from 3.691 percent on July 24.

Analysts attributed the decline in borrowing costs to rising hopes in debt-stricken southern Europe that the Central European Bank would soon intervene in financial markets by resuming its controversial bond-buying program.

Rallying for support

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is seeking support for such a move among eurozone partners. He's scheduled to host French President Francois Hollande on Thursday and will also hold talks on the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 6.

Spain's national statistic office on Tuesday reported a drop in growth domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2012, adding to the country's recession woes.

During the entire period since the 2008 financial crisis and the bursting of the real estate bubble, Spain's quarterly GDP has expanded only five times, never exceeding 0.3 percent per quarter on those occasions.

hg/msh (Reuters, AFP)