U.S. Treasurys prices traded lower on Tuesday as the U.S. government shutdown entered its eighth day and investors were wary that squabbling in Washington could delay an increase in the debt ceiling.
The U.S. political gridlock has made many investors hesitant to enter new trades as there are few signals from Washington over when the shutdown or debt ceiling may be resolved.
Many U.S. economic releases that are issued by the government, including Tuesday's international trade data and the crucial monthly payrolls data that had been scheduled for last Friday, have been also delayed by the shutdown, muddying insight into the economy.
The Treasury auctioned $30 billion in three-year notes at a high yield of 0.710 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 3.05.
This auction was the first of the $64 billion supply this week. The Treasury will sell $21 billion in 10-year notes on Wednesday and $13 billion of 30-year bonds on Thursday.
Benchmark 10-year notes were last down 1/32 in price to yield 2.636 percent. The yields have struggled to break below resistance at around 2.60 percent.
"A lot of people are just sitting on their hands because they don't even know how to play this, and the risk of being offside is immense because this could be resolved anywhere from the next minute to the next few weeks,'' said Gennadiy Goldberg, an interest rate strategist at TD Securities in New York.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned Congress the United States would exhaust its borrowing capacity no later than Oct. 17, at which point it would have only about $30 billion in cash on hand.
Markets are likely to become more volatile as that date approaches, as fears will likely grow that the political dysfunction may be too great to pass a resolution to raise the debt ceiling.
"As we get closer you will see the market start to care quite a bit more, it will become more real,'' said Goldberg.