June 7, 2013 / 5:26 PM / 5 years ago

TREASURIES-U.S. bonds stumble on revived bets of less Fed buying

* U.S. payrolls grow 175,000 in May, above median forecast
    * Some see Fed buying fewer bonds starting in September
    * Ten-year yield set for sixth straight weekly rise
    * Repo rate on 10-year notes stuck in negative territory

    By Richard Leong
    NEW YORK, June 7 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury debt prices slid
on Friday in volatile trading as data that showed mildly better
than expected employment growth in May revived bets the Federal
Reserve might pare its bond purchases later this year and
spurred selling in bonds.
    The yield on the benchmark 10-year note was on track to rise
for a sixth straight week, which has not happened since late
March to early May 2009 when the U.S. economy was losing
hundreds of thousands of jobs a month during the depths of the
Great Recession.  
    The latest U.S. payrolls gain of 175,000, while below the
top end of economists' forecasts of above 200,000, was high
enough to feed speculation that Fed policymakers will scale back
their $85 billion monthly purchases of Treasuries and
mortgage-backed securities later this year. 
    The May jobs report was seen as critical evidence for the
U.S. central bank's June 18-19 policy meeting where policymakers
will likely further discuss the approach to reduce its asset
purchases, which have helped propel Wall Street stock prices to
record highs and supported the housing recovery.
    "This is a good report. This puts the Fed tapering theme
back in the market," said Eric Green, global head of rates and
currency research and strategy at TD Securities in New York.
    Some traders reckoned the Fed might signal a reduction in
bond purchases in the third quarter.
    "Our expectation would be that you still could have the Fed
- starting in and around September - very moderately reduce the
scale of their long-term asset purchase program, which generally
has been the expectation of the markets," Rick Rieder, co-head
of Americas fixed-income at BlackRock, the world's largest asset
manager, in New York said during a conference call with
reporters after the jobs data.
    But some economists think that the sluggish pace of U.S.
economic growth, which came it at 2.4 percent in the first
quarter, and relatively high unemployment, which edged up to 7.6
percent in May, still require the current level of Fed
    In the meantime, the selling in Treasuries was compounded by
investors closing Treasuries hedges on their mortgage-backed
securities holdings.
    Any reduction in the U.S. central bank's third round of
quantitative easing, dubbed QE3, will likely increase mortgage
rates and slow refinancing, reducing the appeal of mortgage
bonds, analysts said.
    Trading volume in the cash and futures markets jumped after
the payrolls data. Bond prices gyrated wildly for a short period
until they settled into a lower trading range.
    As of 12 p.m. (1600 GMT), $339.2 billion in Treasuries had
changed hands, 23 percent above the 20-day average at this time,
according to ICAP, the biggest inter-dealer broker for U.S.
government debt.
    A rally in Wall Street stocks stemming from the May jobs
data also reduced the allure of low-yielding government bonds.
    Disappointing jobs readings from ADP and the Institute for
Supply Management this week caused some traders to curb
expectations for the May payroll reading, rekindling bids for
Treasuries in the two previous trading sessions. 
    Despite the market selloff on Friday, the 10-year Treasury
yield held below the 13-month-plus highs set last week and still
far less than the 4 percent level prior to the Fed's adoption of
its first round of QE back in late 2008.  
    U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last
traded 21/32 lower in price with a yield of 2.154 percent, up
7.7 basis points from late on Thursday. 
    The 30-year bond was down 1-14/32 in price,
yielding 3.319 percent, up 7.9. basis points from Thursday's
    In MBS trading, the yield on 30-year, 3.0-percent coupon
mortgage bonds guaranteed by Fannie Mae was up
nearly 5 basis points at 2.89 percent. Its yield spread to
comparable five-year Treasuries widened to 1.85
percentage points from 1.79 points late on Thursday, according
to Reuters data.
    As bond prices renewed their recent slump, exchange-traded
funds that bet against Treasuries enjoyed another week of gains.
For example, the Proshares Ultrashort 20-plus Treasury ETF
 was on track to rise 0.47 percent on the week, bringing
its year-to-date gain to 7.86 percent.
    In money markets, the supply of 10-year note issues remained
scarce or "special" in the repurchase agreement (repo) sector,
keeping the overnight borrowing costs to lend them in negative
    This meant investors pay Wall Street dealers and other
holders of the 10-year notes to own them instead of the other
way around during normal conditions when there is adequate
supply of this maturity.
    Ten-year repos for over-the-weekend traded at minus 2.75
percentage points early Friday, compared with minus 3.10 percent
late on Thursday.
    The repo "specialness" of 10-year notes has been driven by
heavy demand from money market funds and cash investors after a
drop in supply of Treasury bills in April. Analysts said the
scarcity of 10-year Treasuries will gradually ease after the
government sells $21 billion of 10-year supply next week.
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