TREASURIES-Yields hit new highs, short paper catches fire

By Hideyuki Sano and Charlotte Cooper

TOKYO, Dec 13 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. Treasuries tumbled in Asia on
Monday, driving up their 10-year yields to a new six-month high
as Japanese investors kept dumping Treasuries on the spectre of
higher growth and higher deficits in the United States.

The short end of the market is increasingly under pressure as
the yield on two-year notes (US2YT=RR: ) also rose to a near
six-month high and federal fund rate futures prices (0#FF:: )
started to price in the chance of a possible rate hike by the
Federal Reserve in 2012.

That is a sea change from just over a week ago, when comments
by Fed chief Ben Bernanke prompted debate among traders over
whether the central bank will adopt another round of easing after
its current $600 billion debt purchase programme expires next
June.

The 10-year yield (US10YT=RR: ) rose to as high as 3.39
percent, from around 3.32 percent in late U.S. trade on Friday
and breaking above a 61.3 percent retracement of its May-November
fall at 3.37 percent that some market players had eyed.

U.S. T-bond futures prices (TYv1: ) also broke a 61.8 percent
retracement of their rally this year at 119-27.5/32 as the March
futures fell 24.5/32 to 119-15/32.

“The fact that Treasuries have been sold quite often in Asian
trade these days suggests that some Japanese investors are now
eager to offload U.S. Treasuries as soon as possible,” said
Tomoaki Shishido, a fixed-income analyst at Nomura Securities.

Japanese investors had bought a massive 22 trillion yen ($262
billion) of foreign bonds for the 27 straight weeks until
November, a large part of them thought to be in Treasuries.

“Many investors are now saddled with unrealised losses, which
points to strong pressure for more selling,” said a trader at a
Japanese brokerage house.

The trader predicted the next target could be 3.68 percent in
the 10-year yield, a 50 percent retracement of its fall to a low
near 2.04 percent from a high around 5.33 percent set in 2007.

The two-year yield (US2YT=RR: ) also rose as high as 0.69
percent, its highest level since late June.

The January 2012 Fed fund futures contract fell 0.02 to
99.495, indicating a rate hike to 0.50 percent by then, though
trade volume is thin in Asia.

A string of firm U.S. economic data, including a fall in
jobless claims to two-year low, and a deal between President
Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers to extend tax cuts and
renew unemployment benefits have led to expectations of stronger
U.S. growth next year.

A higher deficit could also undermine investors’ appetite for
Treasuries, though market players do not expect Washington in the
near term to face the kind of eroding investor confidence that
some euro zone countries are now suffering.

Robert Ryan, an FX and interest rate strategist for Asia at
BNP Paribas in Singapore, said the two-year yield is the key to
gauging investors’ views on an economic rebound.

“Yes we have the 10-year going up but it’s the two-year we
need to watch. What is sending the 10-year higher? Is it growth,
inflation or credit (concerns)? So we prefer to focus on the
two-year at this stage as the indicator of where this rebound is
coming,” he said.

The sell-off in Treasuries has so far been led by the five-
and 10-year sectors.

The yield curve between two- and 10-year yields has steepened
to a level not seen since May, with the spread widening to 270
basis points.

“If the market really thinks there will be a rate hike within
a year, then the two-year yield could rise near 1 percent. I
don’t expect a rate hike that early myself but I cannot rule out
the possibility of the market expecting that,” Nomura’s Shishido
said.
($1=83.97 Yen)
(Editing by Michael Watson)

TREASURIES-Yields hit new highs, short paper catches fire