TREASURIES-U.S. bond yields plunge on fresh Russia-Ukraine tensions

Fri Aug 15, 2014 4:38pm EDT

* Ten-, 30-year yields hit lowest in over a year

* Renewed Russia-Ukraine tensions drive safety bid

* Weak U.S. factory, consumer sentiment data weigh too (Updates prices, adds comments)

By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - U.S. benchmark and long-term Treasuries yields fell to their lowest in over a year on Friday to notch their second straight weekly drop after rising tension between Russia and Ukraine drove safe-haven bids for the debt.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said artillery had destroyed part of a Russian armored column that had crossed into Ukraine during the night.

Russia, meanwhile, accused Ukraine of attempting to disrupt a Russian humanitarian aid mission to eastern Ukraine and called for a ceasefire to allow for the deliveries.

"Even if the issues today are resolved and there isn't a shooting war, that ongoing tension between the Ukraine and Russia puts an underlying bid into the Treasury market," said Lou Brien, market strategist at DRW Trading in Chicago.

While the news about Ukraine drove much of the plunge in Treasuries yields, they had started to fall earlier on weak U.S. economic data, including cooling factory activity in New York state and a dip in consumer sentiment.

The New York Federal Reserve said its 'Empire State' general business conditions index fell to 14.69 this month from 25.60 in July. A reading above zero indicates expansion.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary August reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 79.2, down from a final reading of 81.8 the month before and its lowest since November.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were last up 15/32 in price to yield 2.34 percent after yielding 2.40 percent late Thursday. The yield earlier hit a session low of 2.30 percent, its lowest since June 2013. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

Prices on 30-year Treasury bonds were last up 1-10/32 to yield 3.14 percent after yielding 3.19 percent late Thursday. The yield earlier hit a session low of 3.11 percent, its lowest since May 2013.

Analysts said they would be closely watching next week's release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's July policy meeting on Aug. 20 and comments from a global central banking summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming later in the week.

One strategist said he was eyeing the release of the minutes of the Bank of England's August policy meeting as well as the Fed's minutes.

"Whatever they say could be a wild card for U.S. rates, especially given the heightened expectations for dovishness," said George Goncalves, head of rates strategy for Nomura Securities in New York.

Investors have been watching closely for signs of when the Fed will hike interest rates from rock-bottom levels, and fears of such a hike hurting bond prices have affected price movements in recent weeks.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 stock index erased a big decline to close mostly flat. (Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by James Dalgleish and Chizu Nomiyama)

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