The cost of Spanish debt started today at a rate of 383 points above German yields but as money markets opened, it leaped past the 400 point barrier (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). This is its highest level since the creation of the Euro and comes as a result of continuing doubts in the international financial markets about the US economy, despite the agreement reached yesterday on raising that country's debt ceiling, just before it would have been forced to declare bankruptcy. The rise in the price of Spanish debt means that the goverment has to pay investors 6.293 percent interest on 10-year bonds (a rise from 6.2 percent yesterday); in contrast, German bonds are paying a yield of 2.46 percent, which is also a slight rise compared to yesterday's closing rate. The market volatility will affect the auction of three-year bonds that the Spanish exchequer (Tesoro) has planned for August 4th, with which it was hoping to earn between €2.5 billion and €3.5 billion. In other countries on the periphery of the Euro zone, both Greece and Ireland have seen their debt cost fall slightly, while Portugal and Italy both experienced rises in the risk premium.
The number of people out of work in Spain fell again in July for the fourth consecutive month (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The total number registered with the offices of public employment services (the former INEM) was 4,079,742 at the end of last month, a reduction of 42,059 compared to June; the news was announced this morning by the Spanish employment and immigration ministry. The fall, that has been helped by the tourist season is, however, smaller than that seen at the same time last year, when unemployment went down by almost 74,000. Despite this, July was the fourth month in a row that unemployment fell in Spain, according to these statistics, and is the second biggest fall in unemployment in the month of July since 1999. The secretary of state for employment, Mari Luz Rodríguez, emphasised the continuing reduction in the number of people looking for work, a trend that has now seen 250,000 people return to the workplace. In Catalunya, the number of people out of work fell by 5,525.
The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) has decided to postpone its planned autumn congress until December 16th (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). This decision was the outcome of an extraordinary meeting held yesterday by the PSC's national executive, which met to agree a date for the congress that wouldn't coincide with the Spanish general elections, which have now been set for November 20th by prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Initially, the congress was due to take place from October 28th to 30th but it has now been adjourned by around six weeks. The decision, which still needs to be ratified by the national council on September 17th, means that the PSC will have been on 'stand-by' for more than a year, since the first secretary and former president of the Generalitat, José Montilla, announced last November 28th that he would not stand again as leader of the party, following its poor showing in the Catalan elections.