TREASURIES-Prices gain after recent slump; Fed minutes eyed
* Investors looking to Fed minutes due Wednesday * Benchmark yields ease from two-year highs * Fed minutes could be key for gauging Fed QE exit By Luciana Lopez NEW YORK, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Prices for U.S. Treasuries advanced on Tuesday after a recent slump pushed yields to two-year highs, encouraging investors to dump riskier assets and buy relatively cheap U.S. government debt. Worries the U.S. Federal Reserve could soon slow or even stop its massive bond-buying program have sent yields soaring by more than 100 basis points since May. "The market had backed up to levels where valuations got particularly attractive," said Jake Lowery, a portfolio manager for global interest rates at ING U.S. Investment Management in Atlanta. In addition, developed markets around the world, including the United States, are showing signs of growth as emerging markets appear to be slowing down. Because emerging markets are generally less liquid, the combination of economic concerns and worries about a Fed slowdown have made those assets less alluring recently. "The ongoing meltdown in regional currencies is starting to negatively influence all risk assets and, for the moment, is helping create a bid for the Treasury market," said John Briggs, managing director and U.S. rate strategist at RBS in Stamford, Connecticut. Those emerging currencies, as well as global stocks, all suffered on Tuesday as investors fretted the flood of easy money from the Fed could be coming to an end. World shares slid to their lowest level in more than a month and emerging markets fell for the fourth straight day on Tuesday. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note gained 18/32 in price to yield 2.816 percent, from 2.882 percent on Monday. The 30-year bond added 25/32 in price to yield 3.855 percent, compared to 3.901 percent on Monday. The question of when the Fed might hit the brakes on its $85 billion per month in buying of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities has dominated the market for U.S. government debt recently. Fed speakers have emphasized that they will keep their key interest rate low even as they slow their bond purchases. But markets have nonetheless proved nervous since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke first started hinting at a policy exit in May. Investors are now awaiting minutes, due on Wednesday, of the U.S. central bank's most recent meeting. Those minutes could help investors better understand the mind-set of policymakers as they consider weaning the world's biggest economy off the so-called quantitative easing program. Half the economists in a Reuters poll expect the Fed to begin tapering its asset purchases in September. There are few economic indicators slated for this week, leaving investors instead focused on the Fed.
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