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TREASURIES-U.S. bond prices climb on China, Argentina worries
January 24, 2014 / 8:46 PM / 4 years ago

TREASURIES-U.S. bond prices climb on China, Argentina worries

* Benchmark yields fall below 2.75 percent to 2-month lows

* Longer-dated yields notch 4th week of decline

* Fed bought $3.30 billion Treasuries due 2020

By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries prices rose on Friday with benchmark yields hitting near two-month lows on safe-haven bids for bonds stemming from worries about tightening credit conditions in China and a looming currency crisis in Argentina.

Those worries since Thursday have spurred selling in global stock markets and other riskier investments as investors scrambled into the relative safety of cash and U.S. and German government debt.

“We’ve seen a significant rally on a risk-off sentiment caused by events overseas,” said Jake Lowery, portfolio manager for global rates at ING U.S. Investment Management in Atlanta, Georgia.

Beijing’s effort to rein in its unhealthy growth in high-risk lending has stoked concerns about how that might impede expansion of the world’s second largest economy.

Argentina meanwhile abandoned support of its currency on the open market this week, resulting in the peso’s biggest drop since the 2002 financial crisis. Although chances of Argentina’s woes rippling across Latin America are remote, investors are worried this could hurt the currencies of Argentina’s major trade partners.

Safety bids for Treasuries stemming from concerns about China and emerging markets were mitigated by caution ahead of next week’s $111 billion in longer-dated U.S. government debt supply and the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, analysts and traders said.

Benchmark 10-year Treasuries notes were up 11/32 in price with a yield of 2.733 percent, down 4 basis points from late on Thursday. The 10-year yield fell to 2.706 percent earlier, which was below its 100-day moving average and the lowest intraday level since Nov. 26, according to Reuters data.

Ten-year and 30-year yields notched four straight weeks of declines, a move which has not happened since last March to early April.

On Wall Street, the three major stock indexes stumbled for a second straight day with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index falling 1.6 percent.

The bond market was also supported by the bond purchase from the Fed for its stimulus program. The central bank bought $3.30 billion in U.S. government debt that matures Feb. 2020 to Dec. 2020 for its third round of quantitative easing.

Fed policy-makers will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday and consider whether to further scale back QE3 that is aimed at holding down long-term borrowing costs to help the economy.

In December, the Federal Open Market Committee pared its monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities by $10 billion to $75 billion in January. The Fed’s policy-setting group is expected by some analysts to cut its monthly purchases by another $10 billion at its upcoming meeting.

“Any dovish change in the tone of the Fed statement could move the markets given the preponderance of people who believe there will be a $10 billion taper,” said Ira Jersey, U.S. interest rate strategist at Credit Suisse in New York.

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