UPDATE 1-Euro zone government bond yields steady; investors ignore AstraZeneca vaccine news

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields tmsnrt.rs/2ii2Bqr (Updates prices, adds latest news and detail)

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Euro zone government bonds were little changed despite positive news on a AstraZeneca vaccine, as investors focused on the major economies under strict lockdowns and the fact COVID-19 cases are not receding.

Britain’s AstraZeneca said on Monday its vaccine for the novel coronavirus could be around 90% effective without any serious side effects, making it the latest pharmaceutical company to report on late stage results.

But more than 58.32 million people are reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,385,595 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

And many of Germany’s 16 federal states favour extending a partial shutdown meant to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The covid pandemic, and associated social distancing measures, remains front and centre on investors’ minds,” said ING analysts in a note to clients. “This, combined with still cautious central banks, would reduce euro zone rates upside.”

Benchmark German 10-year Bund yields were last flat at -0.577%, after falling to a two-week low of -0.592%. Peripheral yields were lower, with Italian 10-year BTP yields down 1.3 basis points at 0.585%, close to its recent 0.57% record low.

Portuguese 10-year government bond yields were flat, but at 0.026%, they were close to negative territory.

Euro zone business activity contracted this month as renewed lockdowns forced much of the bloc’s dominant service industry to close temporarily. Investors were indifferent; yields were little changed.

The spread between German and Italian government bond yields — essentially the premium Italy is paying for its debt — stood at 117 basis points, close to a two-and-a-half year low.

ING analysts see the spread between euro zone and U.S. government bond yields shrinking, too, given that “the current wave is at an earlier stage in the U.S. and so we expect pessimism to be the dominant tone in U.S. markets,” they said.

The spread stood at -143 basis points, near the half-year low touched earlier this month.

Elsewhere, Belgium raised 1.494 billion euros ($1.258 billion) in an OLO (linear bond) auction on Monday, the Belgian debt agency said.

ING said a total of 14 billion euros were expected in issuance this week from Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. Rabobank estimated a total of 11 billion euros.

Credit-rating agency Moody’s is expected to review Belgium’s rating on Friday, which currently stands at Aa3.

Belgium’s 10-year government bond yields were last steady at -0.394%.

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