TOKYO Feb 27 U.S. Treasuries firmed in Asia on
Wednesday on political deadlock in Italy triggered by
inconclusive elections and after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke reaffirmed the central bank's commitment to monetary
* The yield on 10-year notes dipped slightly to 1.874
percent, from around 1.883 percent in late U.S.
trade. It had fallen to as low as 1.836 percent on Tuesday, its
lowest level in over a month.
* The benchmark yield has decisively broken below its
trading range around two percent during the past month after
Italy's elections triggered fears that political paralysis in
the country could reignite the debt crisis in the euro zone.
* "The market isn't trying to price in a European crisis
like the one we saw last year. Still, what it is doing now is to
recalibrate risk and to price in some of that risk," said
Tomoaki Shishido, fixed income analyst at Nomura Securities.
* U.S. bonds could gain if Italy is forced to pay far higher
borrowing costs than before the election, when it sells
longer-dated bonds on Wednesday.
* Treasuries got a modest boost after Bernanke strongly
defended the Fed's bond-buying stimulus, easing some speculation
that the Fed is inching towards wrapping up its big bond buying
scheme as soon as the middle of this year.
* While Bernanke acknowledged the risks from the U.S.
central bank's bond purchases, which have ballooned its balance
sheet to more than $3 trillion, he said the Fed has the ability
to manage these risks.
* Investors are also looking to $85 billion in automatic,
across-the board spending cuts due to come into force on Friday
unless lawmakers reach a budget deal to avoid them.
* While worries that spending cuts would hurt the
still-fragile U.S. economy are likely to support Treasuries,
Nomura's Shishido said the initial market response may be muted
given that its impact will be spread out over a long period.
* "It's not like a government shutdown. Even if spending
cuts start, the government can't cut staff on day one. It will
take some time. So the market may be able to react only when its
impact start to show up in economic data, perhaps in late April
at the earliest," he said.