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Treasurys add to losses after weak 7-year auction

Wednesday, 27 Nov 2013 | 3:26 PM ET
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Treasury prices added to losses on Wednesday after the Treasury sold $29 billion in seven-year notes to relatively low demand in the government's final sale of $96 billion in new coupon-bearing debt this week.

Dealers took the largest allocation of seven-year notes since June 2012 as both direct and indirect bidders stepped back, buying their lowest allocations since June and February, respectively. The notes sold at a high yield of 2.106 percent, more than a basis point higher than where they had traded before the auction in the secondary market.

The bid-to-cover was 2.36 times, the weakest since May 2009. Investors have been reluctant to enter new positions in a holiday-shortened week and they also await data next week that will bring new information on the strength of the economy, with Friday's payrolls employment for November the most anticipated release.

Investors are focusing more closely on data as they weigh the odds of when the Federal Reserve is likely to begin paring its $85 billion-a-month bond purchase program.

Many investors expect the Fed will begin tapering in the first quarter of next year if the economy continues its recent momentum.

"The general thought is that if the data continues to come in as good as it does it would move up the prospects of tapering, and I think it would increase the odds of a January taper," said Gennadiy Goldberg, an interest rate strategist at TD Securities in New York.

Has the Fed lost control of the bond market?
Peter Boockvar, Chief Market Analyst at economic advisory firm The Lindsey Group, says the U.S. central bank can't afford to ignore rising interest rates.

Expectations that the Fed will reduce buying may have hurt demand for seven-year notes on Wednesday, which have benefited from the central bank purchases. The sale was the last significant event for the bond market, which will be closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and also closing early on Friday.

(Read more: Is the Fed trying to 'fool' the bond market?)

Benchmark 10-year notes were last down 11/32 in price to yield 2.75 percent, up from 2.71 percent late on Tuesday. Thirty-year bonds fell 11/32 in price to yield 3.82 percent, up from 3.78 percent. Prices had weakened before Wednesday's auction as data also showed that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpected fell last week.

"We need more data, we always need more data to confirm it seems, but 316K claims to us means the labor market outlook is picking up," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York.

Separate data on Wednesday, meanwhile, showed what seemed to be waning momentum in factory activity. Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 1.2 percent in October.

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