European austerity uncertainty pushes yields lower

NEW YORK - U.S. Treasury debt prices rose on Monday after elections in France and Greece raised investors’ concerns about the progress of austerity drives in Europe, extending a rally ignited by downbeat U.S. jobs data last week.

By (Reuters)

Published: Mon 7 May 2012, 8:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:11 AM

Greece’s main parties failed to win enough votes over the weekend to form a ruling coalition, a clear rejection by voters of pro-bailout policies, putting the country’s future in the euro zone at risk and threatening to stoke the region’s debt crisis.

In France, Socialist Francois Hollande won a presidential vote and promised to start a push back against austerity policies.

Also, weak U.S. employment data on Friday provided more evidence the world’s biggest economy is slowing and sent benchmark U.S. bond yields to a three-month low below 1.90 percent.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes on Monday were trading 5/32 higher in price to yield 1.87 percent, down from 1.89 percent late Friday. Benchmark yields touched 1.82 percent on Monday, marking the lowest since Feb. 3.

“There was a pretty good bid during the Asian session, and Asian equities were hammered lower on the election results out of Europe,” said Kim Rupert, managing director of global fixed income analysis at Action Economics LLC in San Francisco.

“We saw some weakness in European shares and also the euro as a result of the socialist win in France and also the uncertain environment in Greece, but the markets have sort of recovered,” Rupert said.

The price strength and historically low yields in Treasuries raised some questions about the strength of demand in Treasury auctions of $72 billion of debt this week. The Treasury will sell $32 billion of 3-year notes on Tuesday, $24 billion of 10-year notes on Wednesday and $16 billion of 30-year bonds on Thursday.

“Even though inflation is really a concern now, it is still tough to buy a 10-year note at about the 1.90 (percent) yield level,” Rupert said.

The Federal Reserve on Monday is scheduled to buy $1.5 billion to $2 billion of Treasuries maturing February 2036 through February 2042 as part of its latest stimulus program, which has been nicknamed “Operation Twist.”

Ahead of the Fed purchase, 30-year bonds were trading 10/32 higher in price to yield 3.06 percent, down from 3.08 percent late Friday

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