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US bonds flat after weak China, Japan data

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U.S. Treasury bonds traded mostly flat on Monday ahead of debt auctions this week with no new U.S. economic data on tap for now.

Yields were roughly unchanged after hitting their highest levels in six weeks on Friday on stronger-than-expected jobs data. A lack of new U.S. economic data drew investors' attention to upcoming bond auctions. Traders said the auctions are likely to attract buyers after last week's dip in prices.

"The backup in yields thus far is going to create decent demand," Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia. Bond yields move inversely to their prices.

The government will sell $64 billion in new coupon-bearing debt this week, including $30 billion in three-year notes, $21 billion in 10-year notes and $13 billion in 30-year bonds.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose about 18 basis points to 2.79 percent last week on a calming of geopolitical tensions in Russia and Ukraine and strong U.S. jobs data.

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Prices on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasurys were last up 1/32 to yield 2.78 percent. That level was down just slightly from last Friday, when the 10-year yield traded at 2.79 percent.

Traders said the slight gain in benchmark Treasurys came after data on Saturday showed China's exports unexpectedly tumbled 18 percent year-on-year in February, swinging the trade balance into deficit and adding to fears of a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.

"The weak China trade balance data caused some flight to quality on less optimism about the global economy," said Jeffrey Young, interest rate strategist at Nomura in New York.

He added, however, that Treasurys pared much of the modest gain on a lack of new U.S. economic data and little new development in Ukraine.

The 30-year Treasury bond was last 1/32 lower in price to yield 3.73 percent, roughly unchanged from Friday.

—By Reuters

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