(Adds fed fund futures) By Herbert Lash NEW YORK, July 19 (Reuters) - The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to a five-month low on Monday as the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus sparked fears global growth would slow and hamper the reopening of economies. The 10-year yield fell 9.2 basis points to 1.207%, a low last seen in February. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond slid 9 basis points to 1.840% as equity markets worldwide fell and the safe-haven dollar and Swiss franc rose in a flight to safety. "This looks like a global flight to quality/risk-off event," said Scott Buchta, head of fixed income strategy at Brean Capital in Chicago. "The speed to the move down in yields almost mirrors the pace at which yields moved higher in February and March – too far, too fast," he said in an e-mail. The fundamental drivers of the bond market point to higher yields, not lower yields, said Stan Shipley, macro research analyst at Evercore ISI in New York. "But the wild card that we've had to deal with for the last year and a half is the coronavirus and now the variant," he said. "Most data on the variant unfortunately is deteriorating, so people are scrambling for safety until they can figure out what's happening." The Delta variant's spread has sparked risk-aversion, pushing bond yields lower and leaving stocks facing their longest losing streak since the pandemic first hit global markets 18 months ago. Fed Fund futures, a widely used security for hedging short-term interest rate risk, showed the chances of the Federal Reserve hiking rates in December 2022 dropped to 58% from 90% on July 13, when the consumer price index was released. The likelihood that the Fed hikes rates in January 2023 fell to 70% from 100% last Tuesday, while futures now are fully pricing in a hike in March 2023. Japanese stocks fell for a fourth straight session as the variant hit sentiment, England's "freedom day" ending COVID-19 lockdowns was marred by surging infections and Australian officials said Victoria state would extend a lockdown to slow the variant's spread. "That's the sentiment that's driving the rates market today - the expectation that may we'll slip back a little bit after all the progress we've made," said Gennadiy Goldberg, interest rate strategist at TD Securities in New York. A closely watched part of the U.S. Treasury yield curve measuring the gap between yields on two- and 10-year Treasury notes, seen as an indicator of economic expectations, was at 99.3 basis points. The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, was down 1.4 basis points at 0.212%. The breakeven rate on five-year U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) was last at 2.488%. The 10-year TIPS breakeven rate was last at 2.296%, indicating the market sees inflation averaging about 2.3% a year for the next decade. July 19 Monday 11:28AM New York / 1528 GMT Price Current Net Yield % Change (bps) Three-month bills 0.0475 0.0482 0.002 Six-month bills 0.0475 0.0482 -0.003 Two-year note 99-213/256 0.2116 -0.014 Three-year note 99-248/256 0.3855 -0.044 Five-year note 100-218/256 0.6995 -0.078 Seven-year note 101-206/256 0.9806 -0.090 10-year note 103-236/256 1.2004 -0.099 20-year bond 108-88/256 1.7499 -0.106 30-year bond 112-144/256 1.8267 -0.103 DOLLAR SWAP SPREADS Last (bps) Net Change (bps) U.S. 2-year dollar swap 7.25 -0.50 spread U.S. 3-year dollar swap 8.50 -1.50 spread U.S. 5-year dollar swap 6.25 -1.50 spread U.S. 10-year dollar swap -3.25 -2.00 spread U.S. 30-year dollar swap -32.25 -2.25 spread (Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Karen Brettell, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Dan Grebler)
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