Treasurys edge lower as year-end loom

U.S. Treasurys

Prices for U.S. Treasurys dipped slightly on Tuesday, with investors seen unlikely to take large positions as they closed out their books on the last trading day of the year.

While yields on the benchmark 10-year note rose slightly, they remained below the 3 percent level, breached last week after the U.S. Federal Reserve earlier this month said it would slow its massive bond-buying program.

In addition, the bond market will close early on Tuesday ahead of the New Year's Day holiday on Wednesday. That holiday closure helped keep trade volumes thin on Tuesday.

"I'd be surprised to see anything major, but it is month end, quarter end," said Justin Lederer, an interest rate strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

The face of the Fed with Yellen at the helm

The 10-year Treasury note slipped 17/32 in price on Tuesday to yield 3.036 percent, from 2.976 percent on Monday. Last week that yield hit its highest since July 2011.

The 10-year yield has jumped this year by about 125 basis points on the recovery in the world's biggest economy and the resulting pull back in stimulus by the Fed.

The Fed will see further changes early in 2014 as vice chair Janet Yellen takes the reins from Ben Bernanke.

A final vote on her confirmation is set for Jan. 6 when the Senate returns after a holiday break. She is widely expected to be approved.

"There are going to be a lot of personnel changes at the Fed," said Thomas Simons, an economist at brokerage Jefferies & Co, noting also changes in the vice chair and other regional positions.

"I think that the tone is still going to remain basically the same as it was in 2013 and prior," he added.

"Yellen definitely shares a lot of the core views that Bernanke does." Yellen is perceived as dovish, emphasizing the importance of employment. She has been a strong advocate of the Fed's aggressive measures in recent years to bolster the economy.

That could help keep policy at the Fed loose for years yet, with short-term interest rates near zero as inflation pressures remain subdued. At 7.0 percent, the unemployment rate—though at a five-year low—remains well above the level Fed policymakers would like to see.

—By Reuters