February 5, 2013 / 9:51 PM / in 5 years

TREASURIES-U.S. bonds slip as investors flock to riskier assets

* 10-year yield edges above 2 percent
    * U.S. services sector grew in January -ISM
    * U.S. stocks rally after previous day's sell-off
    * Private index on euro zone business hits 10-month high

    By Ellen Freilich
    NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries prices fell on
Tuesday as a rebound in Wall Street stocks and data on European
business activity that indicated improvement in the region's
economy cut the appetite for safe-haven government debt, pushing
benchmark yields back above 2 percent.
    Sentiment in European bond markets contributed to the move
to riskier assets, as yields on Italian and Spanish sovereign
debt fell, a day after a jump on worries about possible
political shake-ups in the two countries.
    "Concerns about Europe reasserted themselves yesterday and
that flight to quality caused a dramatic rise in Treasury
prices," said Wilmer Stith, portfolio manager of the Wilmington
Broad Market Fund. "Today calmer heads prevailed."
    Benchmark 10-year yields edge back up to just over 2
percent, as data on the U.S. economy added to pressure in the
bond market.
    The Institute for Supply Management said its U.S. service
sector index showed expansion in the sector in January, though
the pace of growth slowed slightly.
    "The economy is improving," Stith said. "The ISM report was
a little weaker than last month, but the employment sub-index
was the highest in seven years. Because of that, 10-year
Treasury yields went back to 2 percent."
    Stock prices rallied on Tuesday, further damping investors'
ardor for safe-haven U.S. debt.
    Selling of long-dated hedges on debt securities known as
power reverse dual currency notes also weighed on Treasuries
prices. Dealers have been unwinding hedges on these "exotic"
products due to weakness in the Japanese yen against the dollar,
traders and analysts said.
    Benchmark 10-year Treasuries notes slipped 13/32
 in price to 96-21/32, their yields rising to 2.01 percent from
1.96 percent late on Monday when 10-year yields hit a more than
nine-month high.
    The 30-year bond fell 28/32 lower in price to
91-06/32. Its yield rose to 3.21 percent from 3.16 percent at
Monday's close.
    The yield on 10-year Spanish government notes 
fell from Monday's six-week high to 5.38 percent, down 5 basis
points, while the yield on Italian sovereign debt 
slipped to 4.46 percent, down 1 basis points from late on
    Some analysts pointed to signs the euro zone's economy may
be turning the corner.
    Markit's Eurozone Composite PMI, which is based on business
activity across thousands of companies, rose in January to a
10-month high of 48.6 from 47.2 in December - an improvement on
the preliminary reading, though still below the 50 mark that
delineates growth from contraction. 
    On the supply front, the U.S. Federal Reserve bought $1.534
billion in Treasuries that mature between February 2036 and
November 2042, part of its commitment to buy $44 billion in 
Treasuries in February.
    The U.S. central bank has been buying Treasuries and
mortgage bonds in an attempt to lower borrowing costs and 
stubbornly high unemployment.   
    The U.S. Treasury Department sold $45 billion in one-month
bills, a record amount for this maturity. These
one-month T-bills fetched an interest rate of 0.065 percent,
compared with 0.035 percent on the $30 billion of one-month
bills sold last week. 
    The derivatives market showed signs of reduced demand for
long-dated, fixed-rate payments in the dollar interest rate swap
market, which some analysts said was due to dealers unwinding
hedges on power reverse dual currency notes. 
    Some Japanese investors have held these "exotic" but risky
debt products, on which they received higher coupon payments
when the yen was rising against the dollar.
    Since last fall, expectations the Bank of Japan would try to
stimulate Japan's economy led the yen to weaken dramatically
against the dollar.
    On Tuesday, the yen hit a 2-1/2-year low against the
greenback at 93.51 yen, down about 21 percent from September,
when speculation on the BoJ started. 
    With the yen weakening, the coupon payments on these notes
should fall, and dealers who sold these notes will likely need
less long-dated cash payments to ensure they meet their coupon
payments to investors, analysts said.
    The discount on the 30-year dollar swap rate to the 30-year
Treasury bond yield, which narrows with lower demand for
long-dated, fixed-rate cash flows, briefly narrowed to 15.25
basis points, a level not seen since March 2010. It then widened
out to 16.25 basis points, unchanged on the day.

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