US Treasury yields hold higher; Fed eyed

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U.S. sovereign bond prices were mostly lower on Wednesday, pushing yields higher after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said December would be a "live possibility" for a rate hike depending on the data.

Yields have climbed steadily since Yellen kept rates on hold last week, but hinted that a hike could come by the end of the year.

According to the CME Group, the probability of a Fed rate hike next month increased to about 60 percent after Yellen's testimony.

Investors also took in fresh supply after the Treasury Department auctioned $26 billion in two-year notes at a high yield of 0.824 percent.

The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 3.01, below a recent average of 3.37.

Indirect bidders, which include major central banks, were awarded 40 percent, below a recent average of 46 percent. Direct bidders, which include domestic money managers, brought 11 percent, below a recent average of 14 percent.


Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields rose to trade around 2.2316 percent on Wednesday, having closed at 2.22 percent on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, yields on the 30-year Treasury traded at 2.9942 percent Wednesday, near the previous close of 3.001 percent.

Two-year yields traded at 0.8075 percent after hitting their highest levels since April 2011.

2-year note yields

Source: FactSet

"A reassessment of the outlook for monetary policy may have already begun, with Treasury yields climbing in response to changes to the FOMC's post-meeting statement and the details of the Q3 GDP release last week, which both increased the chances of a rate hike coming sooner rather than later," said markets economist at Capital Economics, Brian Davidson in a research note published Wednesday.

Investors will have further opportunity to scrutinize remarks from Fed speakers throughout the day Wednesday for any clues on the timing of a rate hike.

In the afternoon, New York Fed President William Dudley said the Fed should not only look at macroeconomic factors in order to decide monetary policy, but also at the micro economy.

"Looking at the national unemployment rate tells only part of the story of the labor market experiences for different groups of individuals," he said. "Understanding this diversity is critical to better understanding the health of the labor market and the overall economy, and is important for informing policy."

Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer speaks at 7:30 p.m. on central bank independence at the National Economists Club.

Before the open, Fed Gov. Lael Brainard spoke in Frankfurt, saying the Fed is "very dependent" on incoming data, but that there have been some tightening of economic conditions.

On the data front, the PMI services index for October came in at 54.8. Non-manufacturing ISM for October came in at 59.1.

The ADP employment report showed private companies added 182,000 jobs last month, slightly above the 180,000 expected by FactSet. The U.S. trade deficit came in at $40.8 billion, a seven-month low, according to The Associated Press.

Weekly mortgage applications fell 0.8 percent last week on higher mortgage interest rates.

— Reuters contributed to this report.