TREASURIES-Prices steady as debt sales offset expected Fed program
* Fed expected to announce $45 bln/month of Treasury buying * Price losses pared after 10-year notes sale * Benchmark yields range-bound in "fiscal cliff" worries By Chris Reese NEW YORK, Dec 12 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury debt prices were trading little changed on Wednesday as investor efforts to force price concessions going into debt sales this week offset bidding in preparation for the Federal Reserve to unveil more stimulus measures. The Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting concludes on Wednesday, with the central bank expected to announce it will buy $45 billion per month of longer-dated Treasuries in the new year as a replacement for the current "Operation Twist" stimulus program. Under Twist, the Fed is selling shorter-dated Treasuries and using the proceeds to buy longer-dated debt. The program is set to expire at the end of December, and analysts say the Fed has little to no shorter-dated debt to sell. Any positive price impact on Treasuries from the expected announcement of more Fed buying was likely to be offset by investor reluctance to push yields lower ahead of government debt auctions this week and next, said John Briggs, Treasury strategist at RBS Securities in Stamford, Connecticut. "We see more of the same (from the Fed) - the same without the front-end purchases. That in itself likely produces an initially positive Treasury market reaction, but as it is the general consensus I don't think it takes us through range resistance ahead of six auctions in seven days," Briggs said. Treasuries pared early price losses on Wednesday following strong demand in the sale of $21 billion of 10-year notes. After the auction the benchmark notes were trading unchanged in price to yield 1.66 percent. Yields on Wednesday had risen to as high as 1.67 percent. The Treasury on Thursday will sell $13 billion of 30-year bonds and next week will auction two-year, five-year and seven-year notes, along with five-year Treasury inflation-protected securities. The Treasury on Tuesday sold $32 billion of three-year notes. Investors often push for price concessions going into such auctions. Benchmark yields have been hovering in a range of 1.56 percent to 1.70 percent since early November, getting price support from worries policymakers may not reach an agreement to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of recession-inducing tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in next year. Safe-haven support for Treasuries has also been underpinned in recent months by worries over the credit crisis in Europe and its potential impact on global economic growth. On what is already proving to be a busy day in debt markets, the corporate debt market was also set for action with six new investment grade deals and the Qatar Telecom launch of $1 billion deal on Wednesday, along with four high-yield deals announced.
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