TREASURIES-U.S. bonds firm before GDP, sentiment data
LONDON, April 26
LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries gained in Europe on Friday with the focus on a final update of a closely-watched sentiment survey for April, likely to confirm consumer spending was slowing and threatening to stymie economic recovery.
Traders are also looking to gross domestic product figures due at 1230 GMT forecast to show the economy expanded at a 3.0 percent annual clip in the first quarter, accelerating from 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
Market participants said the backward-looking nature of the figures may weaken their impact, with recent leading indicators having painted a more downbeat picture.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey's final measure of consumer sentiment for April follows a preliminary reading two weeks ago that showed a fall to 72.3 from the final March figure of 78.6.
"The expectations are for a pretty good U.S. GDP reading, but corporate sentiment is still weak, so the Michigan sentiment reading will be in focus," said Ayako Sera, market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
"In some ways, the sentiment reading is more of a focus than the GDP report," she added.
U.S. 10-year T-notes were 4/32 higher in price to yield 1.696 percent on Friday from 1.711 percent in late U.S. trading on Thursday, moving closer to a more than four-month low of 1.643 percent hit on Tuesday.
Most observers expect a robust Q1, followed by a weak Q2, for economic activity, so that risks might be somewhat asymmetrical for Treasuries, with a disappointment that would actually be 'news'," Lloyds strategists said in a note.
"Having said that, upside risks are tempered by yields being at the bottom of the 2013 range, with previous range bottom as far as 1.55-1.60 percent: it is difficult to bet on such a move to lows in the near future."
U.S. T-note futures were up 4/32 at 133-6/32 while the 30-year T-bond was up 9/32 in price to yield 2.892 percent, down from 2.912 percent in late U.S. trade.
On Friday, the Bank of Japan held monetary policy steady as expected.
It said in its semiannual economic and price report that it would continue easing as long as needed to achieve 2 percent inflation in a stable manner, a target it said it would likely achieve during the latter half of the coming three-year period covered in the outlook.
The BOJ's massive stimulus scheme unveiled on April 4 has underpinned Treasuries, on speculation that Japan's life insurers will boost their holdings of foreign bonds in the $3 trillion in assets they hold.
But insurers' annual investment plans for this fiscal year that began this month suggest that they will make no drastic moves.
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