* Bunds track weaker U.S. Treasuries after strong jobs data
* Focus on Fed speakers for steer on Fed tapering outlook
* Other euro zone bonds also soft
By Emelia Sithole-Matarise
LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - German Bunds hit three-week lows on Tuesday, tracking weaker U.S. Treasuries on renewed bets that the Federal Reserve could trim its bond purchases earlier than previously expected.
The market focus is firmly on speeches from Fed officials Dennis Lockhart and Narayana Kocherlakota for hints on when the central bank might start rolling back its monetary stimulus.
Minds are still on the fallout of forecast-beating U.S. jobs data on Friday which wiped away Bund gains triggered by the European Central Bank’s surprise interest rate cut last week.
The Bund future shed 47 ticks to 140.54, its lowest since Oct. 23 with German 10-year yields up 3.3 basis points at 1.79 percent, above levels seen just before the ECB rate cut on Thursday.
U.S. 10-year yields were up 3.5 bps at 2.78 percent in European trading, resuming their rise after a Veterans’ Day holiday on Monday.
“The main story for the Bunds is still the Fed and what happens with tapering,” said Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Merrion Stockbrokers in Dublin.
“I still think more people expect them to move in March rather than in December. That’s my view as well, but I wouldn’t completely rule out December.”
While many in the market saw Bunds outperforming U.S. Treasuries, given the diverging monetary policy outlook between the Fed and the ECB, German yields could be dragged higher near-term by U.S. benchmarks.
A sustained break by the U.S. 10-year yield above 2.75 percent, a level seen by some as providing important resistance, could herald a move towards 3 percent, the highest since early September, when the Fed was expected to start scaling back its stimulus.
”CAN OF WORMS’
A Reuters poll on Friday after the October jobs report showed economists at several primary dealers thought the Fed would cut its bond purchases as soon as January. Just two weeks ago, a similar poll found the majority backing the central bank to hold off until next March.
Lockhart and Kocherlakota are the first Fed officials to speak since the strong payrolls print.
“It will be interesting to see whether they indicate more of a shift towards QE tapering starting in December or in January,” said Mathias van der Jeugt, a strategist at KBC.
Other euro zone bonds were also slightly weaker.
News that German coalition negotiators have proposed that the country hold national referendums on major European policy decisions had little immediate impact on the market, though McQuaid said it could unsettle the market, particularly peripheral euro zone bonds.
“From the market behaviour point of view, trying to get things through this way is unsettling. You can open a can of worms which can cause mayhem,” he said.