TREASURIES-U.S. bonds gain as GDP, sentiment data awaited

TOKYO, April 26 Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:36am EDT

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TOKYO, April 26 (Reuters) - U.S. 10-year Treasuries gained in Asian trading on Friday as regional stocks pared gains, with investors awaiting U.S. growth data as well as a final sentiment report.

* Gross domestic product likely expanded at a 3.0 percent annual rate, according to a Reuters poll of economists, accelerating from a sluggish 0.4 percent pace in the fourth quarter.

* Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan will release the final measure of consumer sentiment for April. The preliminary reading released two weeks ago 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.

* On Thursday, bonds fell after the government said that new claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected.

* The yield on U.S. 10-year notes fell to 1.696 percent on Friday from 1.711 percent in late U.S. trading on Thursday and moving closer to a more than four-month low of 1.643 percent hit on Tuesday.

* The yield on 30-year bonds fell to 2.893 percent from 2.912 percent in late U.S. trade.

* MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was nearly flat in afternoon trade, after rising to a six-week high earlier.

* 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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