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Bond prices stay higher after Fed announcement

Reuters with CNBC

Bonds extended earlier gains on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve signaled that it would remain patient when it comes raising interest rates.

In a statement after its latest policy meeting, the Fed made clear that no rate increase is imminent. Chair Janet Yellen said after last month's meeting that by saying it would be "patient," the Fed was signaling there would be no rate increase for at least two meetings.

The Fed's statement Wednesday said the factors holding inflation below its 2 percent target rate have intensified since its last meeting in December. Inflation has stayed ultra-low partly because of a plunge in energy prices and a steadily strengthening dollar.

Thirty-year bonds were last up 1 18/32 in price to yield 2.34 percent. Yields on the long bond have repeatedly set fresh lows this week and on Tuesday dipped to a record low of 2.328 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Prices on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were also up, with the yield at 1.76 percent on a price rise of 18/32. data. Shorter maturities were little changed.

The Treasury Department auctioned $26 billion in two-year notes at a high yield of 0.540 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 3.74, better than the recent average of 3.36.

Trading was thin and choppy, with demand for long-dated bonds continuing to be fed by relatively fat U.S. yields and moderating expectations of inflation, analysts and traders said.

U.S. Markets Overview: Treasurys chart

Yields on the 30-year issue favored by many non-U.S. investors touched a low on Wednesday of 2.364 percent in overseas trading before the New York open.

"Some of the bullish price action was reversed," said Ian Lyngen, senior government bond strategist at CRT in Stamford, Connecticut. "To some extent it was better corporate earnings, a risk asset rebound."

U.S. stocks got a lift from record-setting quarterly earnings from device-maker Apple on Wednesday and were last up about 0.4 percent after losing 1 percent on Tuesday, when investor confidence was rattled by disappointing profit reports.

"You are seeing a little bit of a bid in the long end but it is just on the theme of the flattening trade on low inflation (expectations) and the relative value of the U.S. against other bonds around the world," said Justin Lederer, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York. "People are waiting on the Fed."

"People will be looking at the patient language. I can't imagine it will be changed," Lyngen said.

The yield curve between five-year notes and 30-year bonds narrowed slightly and last stood at 108 basis points, compared to a three-month average of 156.1, according to Thomson Reuters data.

AP contributed to this report.