* Payrolls figures key for start of next quarter
* Bond funds have seen huge outflows
* Fed officials continue to try to soothe markets
By Luciana Lopez
NEW YORK, June 28 Prices for U.S. Treasuries
slid in choppy trading on Friday, capping a week in which prices
began to stabilize after yields shot to a near two-year high on
a recent Fed-induced selloff.
Portfolio adjustments for the end of the month and the
quarter also added to volatility, analysts said.
And that volatility could continue into coming sessions.
"Markets remain choppy going into the payrolls report next
Friday," said Justin Lederer, strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in
"That could definitely set the tone for a date for QE," he
added, referring to the timing for a potential pullback by the
Fed from its bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we tried to touch the high
yields again, but it's just dependent on data and what goes on
around the world," Lederer said.
The quarter proved a challenging one for Treasuries. The
slump in prices started in May, gaining momentum when Fed head
Ben Bernanke suggested that month that the bank could be looking
for an exit for QE.
But the exit became a stampede last week, when Bernanke said
more strongly that the bank could begin slowing its
$85-billion-per-month QE this year as the economy gains steam.
However, Fed officials speaking this week have taken pains
to reassure investors that the U.S. central bank will not halt
all its stimulus measures at once, with policymakers not yet
ready to hike interest rates for months or even years yet.
The latest voice in the Fed chorus came on Friday from
Governor Jeremy Stein, who said the bank must consider overall
economic improvements since it launched the stimulus and not
give undue weight to the most recent economic data.
A longer view is needed for the Fed's policy-setting
committee to make a good judgment and to avoid undue market
volatility, Stein said according to prepared remarks to the
Council of Foreign Relations.
Benchmark 10-year note yields have backed away
from the 22-month high of 2.67 percent reached on Monday. On
Friday, those notes traded down 11/32 in price to yield 2.514
percent, from 2.4758 percent late on Thursday.
Even so, the yields remain significantly higher than the
2.20 percent area they traded at before Bernanke's comments last
week, and above 1.60 percent at the beginning of May.
Bond funds have struggled in recent weeks. Investors in
funds based in the United States pulled $8.62 billion out of
taxable bond funds in the latest week, marking the first
four-week streak of outflows from the funds since 2008, data
from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.
But some analysts said the Fed might find it harder to slow
its purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities than
The Fed plans to pull back "only if the U.S. economy offers
a combination of lower unemployment, faster growth and stable
inflation," wrote HSBC Economists Stephen King and Madhur Jha in
a report. "The Fed's own forecasts suggest this holy trinity may
now be within reach. Our forecasts suggest otherwise."
In this, analysts say, data will be key.
The government's payrolls data for the month of June, due
next Friday, comes one day after the U.S. Independence Day
holiday, which may reduce volumes and make trading on the number