Treasurys rise on Greece, Ukraine elections worries



U.S. Treasurys rose on Friday on uncertainty ahead of elections in Greece and Ukraine elections, which overshadowed stronger-than-expected U.S. housing data and spurred safe-haven bids.

Traders sought safe-haven bonds on the belief that the elections could result in market volatility, including renewed worries of a Greek exit from the euro zone and the potential for greater geopolitical concerns surrounding Ukraine.

"European parliamentary elections and Ukraine elections are key events in the near term which could be driving people into the safety of U.S. Treasuries," said Robbert van Batenburg, director of market strategy at Newedge USA, LLC, in New York.

Batenburg said that if Greece's leftist Syriza party wins, its leaders could reject the government's austerity policies and threaten to leave the euro zone. If pro-separatist voters in eastern Ukraine fail to participate, he said, it could stoke geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

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The European Union's parliamentary election kicked off on Thursday. Greece's leftist Syriza party performed strongly in key races in the first round of local elections on May 18.

Data showing that sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose more than expected in April failed to derail safe-haven demand for Treasuries.

The Commerce Department said new U.S. single-family home sales increased 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 units, ending two straight months of declines. March's sales pace was revised up to 407,000 units from a previously reported 384,000 units.

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"All the market is concerned about at this point is that there is nothing on the near term horizon that is going to change the sideways to mild downward pattern in housing," said Jim Vogel, an interest rate strategist at FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee.

Prices on 30-year Treasury bonds were last up 18/32 to yield 3.398 percent, from a yield of 3.429 percent late Thursday. Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were last up 7/32 to yield 2.53 percent, from a yield of 2.555 percent late Thursday.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 last traded up 0.31 percent.

—By Reuters