September 20, 2012 / 11:13 AM / 5 years ago

French borrowing costs mostly lower at debt auction

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s borrowing costs mostly fell at an auction of medium-term debt on Thursday that drew firm interest from investors seeking safe-haven assets after weak economic data.

The Agence France Tresor debt management agency said it sold a total of 7.965 billion euros ($10.4 billion) of two-, three- and five-year bonds known as BTANs, as well as 1.777 billion euros of inflation-linked bonds in a separate auction.

The sale came in at the top of the 7-8 billion euro target range that AFT had flagged ahead of the auction.

Investor demand was more than double the amount sold, with total bids worth 18.9 billion euros.

The two-year bonds had a sharply lower yield compared with the last time they were sold with a weighted average rate of only 0.20 percent while the three-year bonds’ yields also fell to 0.53 percent.

The yield on five-year bonds was slightly higher at 0.98 percent.

The downturn in activity in the euro zone’s service sector steepened this month at the fastest pace since July 2009, Markit’s purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) showed on Thursday, with French companies performing particularly poorly.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Stephen Nisbet

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