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Treasurys rise as Ukraine conflict brings safety buying

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U.S. Treasury debt prices rose on Monday as Russia's military intervention in Ukraine boosted demand for safe-haven investments like U.S. government debt, pushing yields down to their lowest in almost a month.

Russia took a financial hit over its military intervention in neighboring Ukraine, with its stocks, bonds and currency plunging as President Vladimir Putin's forces tightened their grip on the Russian-speaking Crimea region.

Tension in the region drove Treasury volume up overnight and sent 10-year yields to 2.5920 percent, the lowest since Feb. 4.

If the conflict continues unabated, yields could fall to 2.45 percent, traders said.

"There are bigger ramifications if this doesn't seem like it is something that will get resolved any time soon,'' said Matt Duch, a portfolio manager with Calvert Investments in Bethesda, MD.

"Given the volatility we saw in emerging markets, it could push investors to the sidelines,'' said Duch.

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Volatility in emerging markets and disappointing economic data has already pushed yields lower than what some traders and analysts consider as fair value.

"There's a lot priced in already. Even though the data hasn't been as strong as people hoped, it's still not nearly as poor to justify 2.60 percent on 10-year yields,'' said Aaron Kohli, an interest rate strategist at BNP Paribas in New York.

(Follow our live blog: Ukraine crisis: Latest news and market reaction)

BNP sees 10-year note yields as fairly valued at between 3 percent and 3.25 percent, though Kohli noted that yields could fall further from current levels if there is an escalation in the Ukrainian conflict or new weakening in the U.S. economy.

"A lot of what we're seeing right now might have been started by an emerging market blowup in Asia, but certainly the Ukrainian situation has added to the concerns and it's been mostly responsible for the move from around 2.75 percent to around 2.60 percent,'' Kohli said.

Ten-year notes were up 13/32 in price, sending yields down to 2.603 percent, from Friday's close of 2.66 percent. Thirty-year bonds rose 14/32 in price, pushing yields down to 3.558 percent from Friday's close of 3.594 percent.

Prices temporarily pared gains after U.S. manufacturing growth rebounded in February, coming off an eight-month low, helped by a recovery in new orders. U.S. consumer spending also rose more than expected in January, likely as chilly weather boosted demand for heating.

The Federal Reserve bought $2.63 billion in debt maturing between 2022 and 2023 as part of its continued bond buying program.

Traders await nonfarm payrolls data, due out on Friday, for a clearer picture on the health of the U.S. economy.

—By Reuters

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