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Business & Finance

US prices slide ahead of debt auctions this week

NEW YORK: US Treasury prices fell on Monday in generally thin volume, after trading higher for most of last week, pr
04 Feb, 2019

NEW YORK: US Treasury prices fell on Monday in generally thin volume, after trading higher for most of last week, pressured by upcoming debt supply, as well as indications that inflation expectations are rising.

US data showing factory orders for November fell way below forecasts pushed yields a little lower, but not enough to retrace their earlier rise.

The market this week is bracing for $84 billion in refunding auctions for February that could cheapen rates, analysts said. The US Treasury will auction $38 billion in 3-year notes on Tuesday, $27 billion in 10-year notes on Wednesday, and $19 billion in 30-year bonds on Thursday.

"The modest cheapening of US Treasuries reflected a simple supply concession into this week's refunding auctions," said

Jon Hill, interest rates strategist, at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

In a concession, investors typically sell Treasuries ahead of an auction to push the yield higher so they can buy them at a lower price.

Nomura Securities in a research note said there has been a clear upward trend in investment funds activity at the long-end auctions as the search for yield continues.

Stan Shipley, fixed income strategist at Evercore ISI in New York, said aside from the auctions, Monday's rise in yields was also consistent with climbing inflation expectations that he believed was mostly due to higher oil prices.

One indicator of inflation expectations is the US dollar five-year forward inflation linked swap, currently at 2.26 percent, the highest in 1-1/2 months. At the beginning of the year, the US 5-year swap rate was at a more than two-year low.

In afternoon trading, US 10-year note yields rose to 2.718 percent, up from 2.691 percent late on Friday.

US 30-year bond yields, were also up at 3.05 percent , from 3.032 percent on Friday.

On the short end of the curve, US 2-year yields climbed as well to 2.528 percent, compared with Friday's 2.51 percent .

Overall, Evercore's Shipley thinks the market may have already priced in the Federal Reserve's dovish stance at last week's Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting.

"You're going to have to look at US economic data very closely," Shipley said. "For the last two years, you didn't really have to look (closely) because the Fed was going to tighten anyway and was keen on normalizing rates."

Yields did tick lower after a 0.6 percent drop in US factory orders in November.

BMO's Hill said the data, while lagging several months, further confirms that the slowing US economy in the last quarter was more pronounced than initially thought.

Copyright Reuters, 2019
 

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