TREASURIES-Yields rise before minutes of Fed meeting released
* Fed minutes due on Wednesday, could show QE debate * Yields on 10-year Treasuries hit a series of new highs * Ben Bernanke not attending Fed's Jackson Hole conference By Luciana Lopez NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Yields on U.S. Treasuries rose on Monday, extending last week's gains as investors anticipated upcoming minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting, which could strengthen the view that the central bank could soon taper its bond-buying program. Benchmark yields touched the latest in a series of two-year highs, with little in the way of economic data to distract markets from the Fed minutes due on Wednesday. Speculation that the Fed could soon hit the brakes on its $85 billion per month buying of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities has sent yields soaring in recent months - over 100 basis points since May, with about 20 basis points in the past two weeks alone. The minutes will be "one of the few opportunities to get any type of insight into where the policy is leaning ahead of the potential taper announcement," said Ian Lyngen, senior government bond strategist at CRT Capital Group LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. Half the economists in a Reuters poll expect the Fed to begin reducing its asset purchases in September, according to a Reuters poll. The annual policy conference held each year by the Fed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will be on Thursday and Friday. "The Jackson Hole conference later this week, while typically a big market focus, is unlikely to give us anything insightful as far as the thinking of the leaders of the Fed," Lyngen added. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will not be attending in contrast to previous years. His absence comes as investors await news on who will be the next chairman of the U.S. central bank. Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers are considered the front-runners. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell 9/32 in price on Monday to yield 2.858 percent compared with 2.825 percent on Friday. The 30-year bond fell 12/32 in price to yield 3.868 percent compared with 3.847 percent on Friday. Some analysts noted that the Fed minutes could do little to soothe jittery markets, saying they were likely to underscore the divergent views within the Federal Open Market Committee. "With minutes from the previous June FOMC meeting revealing that nearly half of FOMC participants wanted to discontinue the QE purchase program by year-end, we could see the likely healthy debate on QE tapering create additional market uncertainty," Gennadiy Goldberg, U.S. strategist at TD Securities in New York, wrote to clients.