TREASURIES-Prices slip on U.S. debt ceiling proposal

Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:43am EST

Related Topics

* Republicans propose short-term raise of the debt ceiling

* U.S. existing homes sales fall unexpectedly in December

* German investor sentiment rises sharply in January

By Chris Reese

NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury debt prices slipped on Tuesday as a strong German market sentiment survey and a U.S. Republican proposal for a limited rise in the debt ceiling curbed demand for safe-haven assets.

Price losses were pared however after data showing an unexpected fall in existing home sales in December sparked some worries over the pace of recovery in the housing market.

In Washington, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives said they aim to pass a measure on Wednesday that would allow the government to borrow the money it needs to pay its bills for nearly four months more, to May 19.

Investors had worried that fighting over the debt ceiling could force the U.S. to delay payments on its debt.

"The worst fears of a disorderly default in early March won't come to pass apparently," said William O'Donnell, head of U.S. Treasury strategy at RBS Securities in Stamford, Connecticut.

However, other fiscal deadlines loom, including a March 1 launch of automatic spending cuts and a March 27 expiration of funding for government agencies and programs.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were trading 4/32 lower in price to yield 1.85 percent, up from 1.84 percent late Friday. The U.S. Treasury market was closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Germany's ZEW analyst and investor sentiment survey beat expectations in January with a sharp rise for the second month in a row, in a sign the euro zone crisis is no longer hitting Europe's largest economy as hard as in late 2012.

The rise in yields on Tuesday was limited by an announcement by the Bank of Japan that its open-ended commitment to buy assets would kick in only next year, disappointing those who expected more aggressive measures.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales dropped 1.0 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million units. While that was still the second highest rate of sales since November 2009, when a federal tax credit for home buyers was due to expire, it was below the median forecast of a 5.1 million-unit rate in a Reuters poll.

"Existing home sales number was a little bit of a disappointment. Housing data has been improving over the past several months, but what will be important is the spring buying season. That data will show if this so-called recovery in housing continues," said Jonathan Garber, macro analyst at Briefing.com in Chicago.

Thirty-year Treasury bonds were trading 9/32 lower in price to yield 3.04 percent, up from 3.03 percent late Friday.

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