Spain, Italy Comfortably Sell 3-Year Debt

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Spain sold 2.02 billion euros of bonds on Thursday at its final debt auction of the year, comfortably finding bidders for the relatively small amount on offer.

The three-year bond was sold at an average yield of 3.358 percent, slightly higher than the 3.39 percent seen at an auction last week and a 3.76 percent average for this year's sales of similardated paper. The bid/cover ratio for this bond was 4.8, compared with 2.0 at the previous sale and a 2.735 average for this year.

Meanwhile Italy's three-year borrowing costs fell to their lowest in more than two years at an auction on Thursday, underscoring how the European Central Bank's pledge to shield vulnerable euro zone members is reducing the impact of domestic political turmoil.

Rome sold nearly 3.5 billion euros of the new BTP bond maturing December 2015, paying a yield of 2.50 percent, down from 2.64 percent on a similar sale one month ago. The yield was the lowest since October 2010.

Thursday's auction allows Rome to complete its funding program for this year. Prime Minister Mario Monti's resignation plan sparked a sell-off on Monday. But buyers in search of appealing returns came back to Italian BTPs while the ECB's bond-buying scheme provides an effective backstop for peripheral euro zone debt.

Polls also suggest a pro-European center-left government could come to power in an Italian election expected in February.

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