TREASURIES-Prices gain after weak U.S. data, eyes on Fed
* Yields fall as consumer confidence, retail sales disappoint
* White House says no decision yet on next Fed chair
* Fed buys $3.70 bln in notes due 2019, 2020
NEW YORK, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Prices for U.S. Treasuries rose on Friday after weak economic data bolstered the view that Fed policymakers next week might slow an exit from the bond-buying program they designed to boost growth in the world's biggest economy. Analysts expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut its $85 billion per month buying of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities at its next policy meeting on Sept. 17 and 18. But mixed data on the U.S. economy have clouded the outlook, underscoring the risks of pulling back, or "tapering" the Fed's quantitative easing stimulus too hard. Yields on Treasuries hit session lows on Friday after data showed consumer sentiment fell to a five-month low in September as mortgage rates rose and Americans grew nervous about tensions in Syria. Other data showed that retail sales increased a weaker-than-expected 0.2 percent last month as Americans cut back on clothing, building materials and sporting goods. "We started getting some weak economic data," said Charles Comiskey, head of Treasuries trading at the Bank of Nova Scotia in New York. The White House said it had not yet decided on its pick to lead the Federal Reserve, after a Japanese newspaper reported that Lawrence Summers would soon be named. Summers is viewed as more hawkish and eager to raise interest rates than Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, also seen as a top contender for the job. "The fact that the Summers story was discredited by the White House brought people back in to buy the belly of the curve," Comiskey said. U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were last up 4/32 in price to yield 2.890 percent, from 2.91 percent late on Thursday. They have fallen from a two-year high of 3.01 percent last Friday. Thirty-year bonds traded up 7/32 in price to yield 3.838 percent, from 3.85 percent on Thursday. The weakening data comes at an awkward time for the Fed. The U.S. central bank will release the statement from its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Analysts said they still expected the Fed to taper, but they were less certain of how much. "The bigger event will be next week's FOMC meeting where we're looking for the Fed to announce their tapering plans somewhere in the area of $10 billion-a-month reduction," said Sean Murphy, a Treasuries trader at Societe Generale. The Fed bought $3.70 billion in notes due 2019 and 2020 on Friday as part of its ongoing purchase program. Bonds have also gained a bid after the Treasury completed the sale of $65 billion in new debt to strong demand, in part because investors unlocked hedges placed ahead of Verizon's record-breaking $49 billion bond sale on Wednesday.