German Bunds see biggest two-week drop in yields since March 2020

* German 10-yr yields down 15 bps in past two weeks

* Biggest drop in yields since COVID-19 first hit economies

* Investors reassess global growth prospects

* Euro zone bond price rally paused briefly on Friday

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) – German government bonds, one of the world’s most liquid safe haven assets, were on track on Friday for their biggest two-week fall in yields since March 2020 as investors saw a longer road to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis than expected.

The European Central Bank’s move to set a new inflation target had little impact on the market, where investors have been chasing safe assets as the coronavirus Delta variant spreads, raising a new threat to economic growth prospects.

“There seems to be the gradual realisation for many that the vaccination programmes alone won’t prove enough to get economies back to their pre-COVID normality,” Deutsche Bank macro strategist Jim Reid said.

The rally in euro zone government bond prices paused on Friday, allowing euro zone bond yields to tick higher by about a basis point across the board, tracking U.S. Treasuries. Analysts attributed this to a bit of profit-taking after a long rally.

But Friday’s small rise in yields follows several days of heavy buying of safe-haven government bonds, driving the German 10-year Bund yield down 7 bps this week and down 15 bps in the last two weeks to -0.304%.

That is the biggest drop in yields — which move inversely to price — over a two-week period since March 2020, when the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis was first being felt in major economies around the world.

Other major euro zone government bonds, such as those of France and the Netherlands, also saw yields tick up on Friday after several days when yields had tumbled.,

The slight rise follow U.S. 10-year Treasury yields, which were up 3.8 bps on Friday after having fallen 14 basis points in the first four days of the week.

The ECB said this week it would embark on a fundamental transformation of Europe’s most powerful financial institution, setting a new inflation target among other steps.

Observers saw the moves as largely dovish for rates. The ECB set its inflation target at 2% in the medium term, ditching its “below but close to 2%” formulation, which gave the impression it worried more about price growth above the target than below.

Several policy makers are due to speak on Friday, including ECB chief Christine Lagarde who will speak at 1230 GMT. They could shed light on the shift.

“The outcome of the strategy review does not come as a surprise and if anything is another step towards more dovishness,” said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING.

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