Treasurys mostly lower after 3-year note sale

Traders in the 10-year bond options pit at the Chicago Board of Trade signal orders.
Frank Polich | Reuters

U.S. government debt prices were mixed on Tuesday as investors focused on Treasury auctions and economic data.

The Treasury Department auctioned $24 billion in three-year notes on Tuesday at a high yield of 1.423 percent.

Indirect bidders, which include major central banks, were awarded 57.2 percent. Direct bidders, which includes domestic money managers, bought 8.1 percent.

The three-year yield was higher around 1.413 percent.

A $38 billion sale of 10-year notes and 30-year bonds are both scheduled for later in the week.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury notes, which moves inversely to price, was lower at around 2.389 percent, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also lower at 3.02 percent.

The 2-year and 5-year notes all hit their lowest points since Jan. 17, during today's session. The 10-year note also hit its lowest level in almost 3 weeks, back to Jan 18th when the bond yielded 2.329 percent.


"The market clearly doesn't expect a March rate hike as the 3 yr note yield today falls to the lowest level in 2 months," said The Lindsey Group's chief market analyst Peter Boockvar. "Rate hikes for that March meeting are at 24 percent, exactly back to where it was before Patrick Harker said March was a possibility last night."

On the data front, the U.S. trade deficit for last year hit its highest level since 2012. Other data released include the job openings and labor turnover survey, which showed job openings in the U.S. totaled 5.501 million at the end of December.

Late Monday, Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker on Monday said an interest-rate hike should be on the table at the U.S. central bank's next meeting, in March.

"I still am supportive of three rate hikes this year, of course with a major caveat depending on how the economy evolves and policy, fiscal policy evolves," Harker told reporters after a speech on regulatory policy for fintech firms. "I think March should be considered as a potential for another 25-basis point increase."

In oil markets, prices steadied as lower production by OPEC and other exporters balanced growing evidence of a revival in U.S. shale production and sluggish demand.

Brent crude traded at around $55.09 a barrel on Tuesday, down 1.13 percent, while U.S. crude was around $52.19 a barrel, down 1.55 percent.

—CNBC's Luqman Adeniyi and Gina Francolla, and Reuters contributed to this report.