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CAIRO: The average yields on Egypt's six-month and one-year treasury bills fell sharply in an auction on Thursday, central bank data showed, after foreign currency reserves surged above levels before a 2011 political uprising.

Egypt's central bank said on Tuesday that foreign currency reserves jumped by $4.73 billion at the end of July to $36.04 billion, higher than before the uprising that drove away tourists and foreign investors, key sources of currency.

At the first treasury auction since the reserve announcement average yields on the 182-day bill fell to 19.574 percent from 21.175 percent at the last sale on July 27, and yields on the 364-day bill fell to 19.348 percent from 20.952 percent.

"This illustrates improvement in liquidity, mainly boosted by the strong recovery in appetite from foreign investors and inflows in Egyptian treasuries," said Hany Farahat, senior economist at Cairo-based CI Capital.

"This will ease the cost of funding for the government," he said.

Egypt's dollar liquidity has been improving since it signed a $12 billion three-year International Monetary Fund loan agreement in November tied to ambitious economic reforms aimed at luring back foreign investment.

Foreign buyers have been snapping up Egyptian treasuries in recent months, with total foreign holdings hitting 250.7 billion Egyptian pounds ($14.11 billion) as of the auction on August 1, according to the head of public debt at the finance ministry, Sami Khallaf.

Egypt's central bank has raised its key interest rates by 700 basis points since November when it floated its currency, encouraging foreign investors to buy up its debt.

Egypt attracted $9.8 billion in foreign investment in domestic debt instruments in the 2016-2017 fiscal year that ended in June, compared to $1.1 billion the previous year.

 

Copyright Reuters, 2017