TREASURIES-Yields inch higher as bond auction, CPI data loom

Karen Brettell and Karen Pierog
·4 min read

(Updates yields, adds analyst comments) By Karen Brettell and Karen Pierog April 12 (Reuters) - Smooth auctions of three- and 10-year notes on Monday kept a move higher in U.S. Treasury yields in check as the market looked ahead to this week's 30-year bond offering and key data releases, including consumer price inflation. The benchmark 10-year yield was last up nearly a basis point at 1.6746%, holding below a 14-month high of 1.776% reached on March 30. The three-year yield was last 1.9 basis points higher at 0.3549%. "The 3-year and 10-year Treasury auctions were generally non-events for markets," said Bill Merz, chief fixed income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "Investors were watching for signs of weak demand, but slightly higher yields leading up to the auctions gave investors adequate compensation for taking down the new supply." The $38 billion auction of 10-year notes resulted in a high yield of 1.680% and a bid-to-cover ratio, a gauge of demand, of 2.36 times. Meanwhile, $58 billion of three-year notes were sold at a high yield of 0.376% and with a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.32 times.. Combined with a $24 billion auction of 30-year bonds on Tuesday, $120 billion in coupon supply hits the market this week, testing investor appetite for debt. Yields have dipped from one-year highs reached last month on improving demand for the debt, though they remain elevated with investors concerned that faster economic growth and rising price pressures will continue to push yields higher. Increasing supply as the government finances higher fiscal spending and widening deficits is adding to the yield increases. Aside from the auctions, the market is also focused on key data this week, including U.S. consumer price data for March due on Tuesday. Investors are betting that price pressures will increase due to increased fiscal and monetary stimulus and as businesses reopen from COVID-19 related closures. "We've built so much in terms of inflation expectations into the market right now that you almost have to have a high CPI report maybe for the next three or four months or people are going to have to maybe reassess how much concern that they've already built in about inflation," said Jim Vogel, senior rates strategist at FHN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee. Comparisons with last year are also likely to be strong, due to a drop in inflation a year ago when businesses closed due to COVID-19. “This is the first month we’re going to see the big base effect pump up the year-over-year comparisons,” said Tom Simons, a money market economist at Jefferies in New York. Market participants are aware of the effect, however, and the Federal Reserve has indicated it will look through any temporary inflation, making it unlikely that a strong number will create a hawkish response from the U.S. central bank. “I don’t think there is a real risk that the hiking timeline is pulled forward or anything like that,” Simons said. Data on Friday showed that U.S. producer prices notched their largest annual gain in 9-1/2 years last month. The two-year Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, was last up 1.6 basis points at 0.1728%. A closely watched part of the yield curve, which measures the gap between yields on two- and 10-year Treasury notes , was less than a basis point flatter at 150 basis points. April 12 Monday 3:26PM New York / 1926 GMT Price Current Net Yield % Change (bps) Three-month bills 0.0175 0.0177 0.005 Six-month bills 0.0375 0.038 0.000 Two-year note 99-232/256 0.1728 0.016 Three-year note 99-178/256 0.3549 0.019 Five-year note 99-82/256 0.8903 0.022 Seven-year note 99-100/256 1.3419 0.012 10-year note 95-8/256 1.6746 0.009 20-year bond 94-48/256 2.2394 0.016 30-year bond 90 2.3426 0.004 DOLLAR SWAP SPREADS Last (bps) Net Change (bps) U.S. 2-year dollar swap 11.75 -0.50 spread U.S. 3-year dollar swap 14.75 -0.25 spread U.S. 5-year dollar swap 10.50 -0.75 spread U.S. 10-year dollar swap 1.75 -0.75 spread U.S. 30-year dollar swap -22.75 -0.75 spread (Reporting by Karen Brettell in New York and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)