UPDATE 1-Spain seeks to ease debt repayment crunch with bond swap
* Spain swaps expensive crisis bonds for new issue
* Treasury prices 9 billion euros of 10-year bond
* Spain follows lead of other crisis-hit countries
* Economists warn markets of Spain's deficit problems (Updates with pricing details, comments)
By John Geddie and Sarka Halas
LONDON, June 12 (Reuters/IFR) - Spain took steps to ease hefty bond repayments coming due next year by swapping expensive debt issued at the height of the euro zone crisis for a new 10-year bond on Thursday.
The fragile euro zone peripheral state is the last of its peers to adopt such measures, aiming to lengthen the average maturity of its debt and soothe investor nerves over how it will pay back around 500 billion euros of bonds that fall due in the next four years.
Spain sold 9 billion euros of new 10-year bonds, more than a third of which were handed to investors in exchange for bonds maturing in 2015.
"It's a smart thing to do because it takes advantage of a market situation which is very friendly for issuers, and it is something that other issuers, like Italy, now do routinely," said Luca Cazzulani, a rate strategist at UniCredit. Continuación...