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Strong demand for China's dollar bond shows investor confidence

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-28 13:23

NEW YORK - International investors piled into a US-dollar-denominated bond offering from China, with orders more than 11 times the deal size, showing international investors' confidence in China's economic development and financial health.

The offering, the first of its kind since 2004, attracted $22 billion in orders on Thursday, according to China's Ministry of Finance. The surge in demand enabled China to price the sovereign debt sale at relatively low interest rates that were only slightly above the US Treasuries.

A $1 billion, 5-year bond was priced to yield 2.196 percent, just 15 basis points over US Treasuries on Thursday, and a $1 billion, 10-year bond at 2.687 percent or 25 basis points over what the United States pays to borrow in debt markets.

Though the bond sale had no rating, the interest rates were equivalent to those with triple-A sovereign rating.

Though not large in scale, the offering bears great significance, said analysts.

China's finance ministry said Tuesday that raising funds was not the main purpose of the offering as China sees sustained economic growth and ample foreign exchange reserves.

The sovereign debt sale will help internationalize the country's financial system and offer global investors an opportunity to better understand China, according to Wang Yi, director of the Finance Department of the Ministry of Finance.

The debt issuance reinforces China's position as a global player in financial markets, according to the law firm Linklaters.

"This US dollar bond issuance underlines China's drive to establish itself as a global player in the international markets as part of its 'Going Out' and 'Belt and Road' initiatives," the firm said in a statement.

In addition, the firm said the transaction provides a new yield curve for pricing future dollar bonds issued by China's corporations. Prior to this issuance, there was no official sovereign credit benchmark for corporate US dollar issuances out of China.

"The successful pricing of this new sovereign bond will set a new pricing benchmark for future Chinese issuers. This is particularly significant given the continued surge in volume of offshore bond issuances coming out of China, with Chinese issuers accounting for more than 65 percent of total issuance in the Asian US dollar bond market so far in 2017," said William Liu, Linklaters Asia head of Capital Markets.

Meanwhile, data showed the bonds had diversified allocation in geographic terms and by investor types. By investor type, fund managers, banks, insurance and retirement pension are all in the game. In geographic terms, investors come from Asia, Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

A surge in demand showed investors were indifferent to the downgrades of the world's second largest economy's credit rating by S&P and Moody's.

Experts said the downgrades would have little impact on investor sentiment as the two financial service agencies underestimated China's capability to curb debt risks and deepen economic reform.

Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, told Xinhua that the S&P ratings cut is a belated recognition of a serious problem that China has already begun to address.

"As long as China continues to emphasize financial stability - and takes actions aimed at promoting it - the threat to growth and development should not be serious," said Roach.

Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer of Krane Funds Advisors, said China's economy continues to be one of the key drivers of global economic growth.

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