TREASURIES-Prices little changed on mixed data as Fed meets

Luciana Lopez and Richard Leong
Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 | 4:12 PM ET

* Treasury sells $35 billion in five-year notes, high yield 1.300 percent

* U.S. retail sales ex autos grew modestly in August

* U.S. home prices posted strongest yearly gain in over seven years

* Fed begins two-day meeting, analysts see no surprises

NEW YORK, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Prices for U.S. Treasuries were mixed on Tuesday though little changed as mixed data underscored uncertain prospects for the economy, with yields close to a three-month low as investors sought direction. Light trading volumes suggested traders were reluctant to make big bets as the Federal Reserve began a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. A sale of $35 billion in five-year notes saw decent if unspectacular demand, with a high yield of 1.300 percent and a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.65. The sale followed a well-received auction of two-year debt on Monday. The Treasury will complete this week's coupon debt offering on Wednesday with a $29 billion sale of new seven-year notes. Benchmark yields have been stuck in a narrow seven-basis-point range after they fell to a three-month low of 2.471 percent last Wednesday in the wake of a disappointing September jobs report. "The market is directionless. There is no urgency to push yields higher or lower," said Lou Brien, a market strategist at DRW Trading in Chicago. Economic data did little to point the way for investors. While an S&P/Case-Shiller report showed the biggest year-over-year home price increase in seven years, consumer confidence sagged badly in October. And the Commerce Department said a hefty drop in car demand led to a surprise 0.1 percent dip in retail sales in September. The Federal Reserve meeting that concludes on Wednesday is expected to maintain the status quo in U.S. monetary policy. The Federal Open Market Committee, the U.S. central bank's policy-setting group, will probably maintain the Fed's current pace of bond-buying in a bid to prop up the economy after a federal government shutdown this month dragged on the world's biggest economy. "The FOMC statement will be purposely bland," said Jim Vogel, an interest rates strategist with FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee. The impasse in Congress that led to the 16-day shutdown highlighted the political risk overshadowing markets, a worry that could make the Fed reluctant to pull back. "It's going to be hard for the Fed to do much of anything other than what they're doing until March of next year, maybe even April of next year," said Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James in Memphis, Tennessee. The effects of a divided Congress, he said, "are a lot more punitive to the economy." Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were up 3/32 in price to yield 2.502 percent, from 2.512 percent late on Monday. The 30-year bond was 4/32 lower, yielding 3.608 percent, from 3.6145 percent late in the previous day. The selling pressure on longer-dated bonds was mitigated by a $1.464 billion bond purchase by the Fed, part of its $85 billion monthly bond-purchase stimulus program, known as QE3.