CARACAS, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Bondholders have received payment of a $70 million coupon on Venezuela’s 2034 Global Bond , three traders said on Tuesday, the country’s first foreign debt payment of 2015 amid market jitters over possible default.
Tumbling oil prices, a contracting economy and a dysfunctional exchange control system have left investors worried that Venezuela might not have enough hard currency to make debt service payments this year.
President Nicolas Maduro says the country will meet all of its foreign debt obligations and dismisses default concerns as the product of a right-wing smear campaign.
Three traders who work with portfolios that include the 2034 bond say their accounts had been credited with interest payments due on the $1.5 billion issue. The traders, who work at different firms, asked not to be identified.
International settlement bank Euroclear, which serves as an intermediary in securities operations, as a policy does not comment on individual transactions. Venezuela’s finance minister, who is the government’s official spokesman on such matters, was traveling with the president in Algeria.
Venezuela’s debt payments pick up in the coming months, with the 1 billion euro ($1.18 billion) Global 2015 due in March.
A shortage of hard currency has crimped imports, which has spurred shortages of consumer goods and left thousands of people spending hours in line in search of consumer goods such as flour, diapers and laundry detergent.
Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded Venezuela’s rating to Caa3 from Caa1 to reflect deteriorating financial conditions caused by falling oil prices.
Venezuelan bonds on average yield 2,958 basis points more than comparable U.S. Treasury bills, according to the JPMorgan emerging market bond index, the highest of any emerging market nation. (Reporting by Corina Rodriguez and Brian Ellsworth. Editing by Andre Grenon)