ISSN: 2056-3736 (Online Version) | 2056-3728 (Print Version)


Treasury bonds lost earlier price gains Monday as investors cashed in some chips from the recent rally following a round of mixed global manufacturing releases. A monthly gauge of the U.S. manufacturing industry slightly beat economists’ forecast, offsetting downbeat manufacturing reports out of China and Germany.

“The U.S. report took a little of the bid out of the Treasury bond market,” said Larry Milstein, head of government and agency trading at R.W. Pressprich & Co. in New York. “There is a lot going on this week, so could be only a short-term softening in bond prices.”

In recent trading, the benchmark 10-year note’s yield was 2.197%, according to Tradeweb, compared to 2.169% at the end of last week. Yields rise as prices fall.

The yield had fallen to 2.15% earlier Monday, the lowest intraday level since Oct 21.

Monday’s releases continue to point to an uneven pace of the global economic outlook, which has sent the 10-year note’s yield down from 3% at the start of the year.

An official gauge of China’s manufacturing industry fell to an eight-month low of 50.3 in November. In Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy, a similar indicator fell to 49.5, the lowest in 17 months.

The manufacturing indicator in the U.S. fared better. The reading edged down to 58.7 from 59 in October. But it remains near the highest in four years and beat the 58 forecast by economists.

Investors are keeping an eye on whether the growth momentum would keep up in the face of weakness overseas, and some expect the uncertainty would draw buyers into Treasury bonds.

“The major themes supporting lower bond yields continue, which are weaker growth prospects and ongoing disinflationary trends,” said Christopher Sullivan, who oversees $2.4 billion as chief investment officer at the United Nations Federal Credit Union in New York.

The selloff in the energy markets since the summer has reduced worries over inflation, encouraging investors to buy bonds. Inflation chips away at bond investors’ returns over time and is the main threat to longer-dated Treasury debt.

Crude oil prices have tumbled more than 30% since June, and earlier Monday U.S. crude price dropped to the lowest level in more than five years. Oil has recently rebounded to trade at $67.91 a barrel. In late June, oil traded above $100 a barrel.

The 10-year Treasury note’s yield fell by 0.15 percentage point last week, the most on a weekly basis since September 2013. Part of the drop has been driven by the sharp selloff in crude oil after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to maintain its production ceiling, rather than cut output to raise prices as the cartel has done in the past.

“Persistently weaker commodity complex continues to depress inflation expectations globally, which in turn provides a license for many central banks to weaken local currencies, print money and depress bond yields,” said Adrian Miller, director of fixed-income strategy at GMP Securities.

The European Central Bank has cut interest rates to record lows this year and has been buying private-sector bonds. The Bank of Japan has increased the size of its bond buying. The People’s Bank of China last month cut interest rates for the first time in more than two years.

U.S. bonds offer superior yields compared with those of Germany, Japan and many other developed countries. On Monday, the 10-year German government bond yielded 0.731%. A rising dollar has added to the allure of buying U.S. assets by foreign investors.

Many investors expect the Fed to be patient in raising official interest rates, which would keep a lid on bond yields. The interest-rate futures markets indicate investors won’t expect the Fed to raise rates until late 2015.