Recently, Ireland hinted it might skip some debt auctions. Now Portugal has gone further, offering to buy back the remaining €4.6bn of €5.6bn May bonds maturing next Wednesday. (The country bought back €1bn on Monday.)

As well as lowering the cost of debt, the moves are intended to calm markets that are hypervigilant to signs of sovereign debt distress. Both countries are signalling their solvency by using their cash buffers to guard against unusually high cost of debt at current auctions.