United Kingdom sells first government bond with a negative yield

People wearing masks walk past the Bank of England as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in London Britain 23 March 2020

People wearing masks walk past the Bank of England as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in London Britain 23 March 2020

A British pound note is seen in front of a stock graph in this November 7, 2016 picture illustration.

The Debt Management Office (DMO) confirmed the United Kingdom sold £3.8 billion of three-year gilts at a yield of minus 0.003% - the first time ever below zero for a longer term United Kingdom government bond.

Bond yields fall as prices rise, but the negative yield means investors who hold them to maturity will get back less than they paid.

When asked Felicity Buchan MP if the Bank was looking at negative rates or buying riskier assets Bailey said: "We're not ruling it in, and we're not ruling it out".

"With little prospect of the Treasury reining in spending any time soon, we expect purchases by the Bank of England to continue at a healthy pace to ensure that the government can finance its record levels of borrowing at record low rates over the coming quarters".

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Bank of England officials have said the central bank is considering further monetary loosening measures to support the economy including more purchases of bonds and - possibly - cutting interest rates to less than zero from a record low of 0.1%.

Negative interest rates potentially challenge some banks' and building societies' solvency as they find it hard or impossible to apply them to customers' savings accounts.

The base rate is already at a 300-year low of 0.1%.

The government needs market appetite for gilts, the name for United Kingdom government bonds, to hold up as it borrows hundreds of billions of pounds to fund measures during the Covid-19 crisis.

In financial terms, a negative bond yield means that investors are effectively paying to lend money to the government instead of receiving a return on their investment. They first fell into negative territory in March but were trading with a positive yield as recently as Tuesday.

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