US Treasury yields rise after strong economic data, Yellen remarks; Mnuchin testimony in focus

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U.S. government debt prices were lower on Thursday as investors digested testimony from President-elect Donald Trump's Treasury pick, as well as strong economic data and remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was higher at around 2.468 percent, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also higher at 3.038 percent. Yields move inversely to prices.

In his testimony, Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin denied that OneWest Bank — a bank he owned — was a "'foreclose machine.' This is not true. On the contrary, I was committed to loan modifications intended to stop foreclosures," he said.

Mnuchin also expressed concerns that the "Volcker Rule" — a component of the Dodd-Frank law meant to block banks from speculating with customers' money — is actually hurting the country's financial system by limiting liquidity.

Yellen delivered remarks on Wednesday, saying the U.S. economy is closing in on the central bank's goals, giving it impetus to start reducing the extreme levels of support it has provided over the past decade.

"Right now our foot is still pressing on the gas pedal, though, as I noted, we have eased back a bit," Yellen said.


"As seen in the US treasury market response to a still dovish Janet Yellen and the rise in rates after her speech, the same thing is happening in longer term bonds in Europe after the very dovish commentary from Mario Draghi," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group.

The European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged. ECB President Draghi also said there is no sign of a convincing upward trend in underlying inflation.

On the data front Thursday, housing starts spiked 11.3 percent in December, while initial jobless claims fell to 234,000.

—CNBC's Fred Imbert and Jeff Cox contributed to this report