U.S. Treasurys prices fell on Friday after unexpectedly better housing data pointed to a strengthening U.S. economy, pulling benchmark 10-year yields up from six-month lows.
U.S. housing starts jumped in April and building permits hit their highest level in nearly six years, offering hope that the troubled housing market could be stabilizing.
"Housing starts were better than expected. They were higher in just about every region, with the Midwest having the biggest jump. That's causing the sell-off," said Michael Chang, an interest rate strategist at Credit Suisse in New York.
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Reduced safe-haven demand for Treasuries as bonds from peripheral European countries, including Spain, stabilized, also led Treasurys yields higher.
"The pressure on a lot of peripheral markets is gone and we are starting to see some buying in those markets," said Tom Di Galoma, head of fixed income rates at ED&F Man Capital Markets in New York.
Benchmark 10-year notes fell 9/32 in price to yield 2.52 percent, up from a low of 2.473 on Thursday, the lowest since Oct. 30. Thirty-year bonds dropped 10/32 in price to yield 3.343 percent, after falling as low as 3.303 percent on Thursday, the lowest since June.
Treasurys rallied strongly on Thursday despite solid U.S. economic data, with much of the gains attributed to safety buying as peripheral European debt weakened.
Some investors may have been moving out of European bonds in anticipation of a weakening euro if the European Central Bank cuts interest rates in June, as is widely expected, said Di Galoma.
"I think some of the accounts are trying to get ahead of that move," he said. Treasurys are also offering much higher yields than safer European bonds, including German government debt, luring investors to U.S. government bonds and pushing down their yields.
"The spread between U.S. and European rates is very wide, so that should keep U.S. rates lower than what they would be otherwise because investors can reallocate their investment out of Europe and into the U.S. to capture that extra yield," Credit Suisse' Chang said.
German 10-year government bonds yielded 1.33 percent on Friday, 1.19 percentage points less than equivalent Treasuries.
Short-covering by investors that had bet on rising yields has also supported Treasuries in recent weeks. The main focus next week will be the release on Wednesday of the Federal Reserve's meeting minutes from April.
The Fed bought $970 million in bonds due from 2040 to 2043 on Friday as part of its ongoing purchase program.