TREASURIES-U.S. bonds dip before debt auction, retail sales

LONDON Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:19am EST

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LONDON Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries slipped in Europe on Wednesday as traders pushed for lower prices before an auction of $24 billion of 10-year bonds later in the day.

Many investors were also wary of putting on big positions before retail sales data, due at 1430 GMT, which should shed light on whether the higher payroll tax this year is prodding consumers to hold onto more of their paychecks.

For now, market focus is on how well the 10-year T-note auction will fare after a sale of three-year notes on Tuesday drew weak demand, which traders said could have been undermined by the absence of Asian investors due to the Lunar year holiday.

The 10-year T-note was last 10/32 down in price to yield 2.01 percent, up 3 basis points from late U.S. trade, drifting towards the upper end of the 1.93 to 2.05 percent range they have been trading in since late January.

"There seems to be a lot of leveraged, very professional-led selling and the real money has been sidelined, people who show up to buy on dips haven't been involved so the market is drifting lower and got us above 2 percent," a trader said.

"The further the down trade extends the better the 10-year auction will go," he added.

The 30-year T-bond was last 19/32 down in price to yield 3.22 percent, up 3 basis points.

Some analysts say benchmark yields could pop out of their recent trading range if retail sales undershoot expectations. Economists in a Reuters poll expect the sales to have risen just 0.1 percent in January.

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