(Adds 30-year TIPS auction, graphic, analyst comment, updates prices, table) NEW YORK, Feb 15 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury yields slipped on Thursday after sizable gains in recent sessions, as investors took a breather from selling bonds and readjusted positions to prepare for more inflation-related volatility, a scenario that could take yields even higher. U.S. benchmark 10-year yields, which move inversely to prices, earlier hit a fresh four-year high of 2.944 percent, before pulling back. So far this year, 10-year yields have climbed nearly 50 basis points. U.S. two-year yields, the maturity most sensitive to rate hike expectations, also came off from nine-year peaks. John Taylor, president and founder of research firm Taylor Global Vision in New York, said yields are headed higher again into late March, which would be a major high. "Maybe the market doesn't see serious trouble ahead for the economy, or it's just biding its time," Taylor said. "The way we see it, regardless of how well the world economy is doing, the tipping point for rates is when equities begin a sustained decline. Our cycles indicate it begins in early May." Economic data on Thursday had little impact on the Treasury market, but it did provide further evidence of the rising inflation trend with gains in U.S. producer prices. Fed fund futures continue to price in a more than 80 percent chance the Fed will raise rates next month, and a 60 percent possibility of further tightening in June. "When we came into this year, the four-rate hike scenario was popular but not the consensus. Today, it's almost a full consensus," said Jim Vogel, interest rates strategist at FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee. In late trading, U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields fell to 2.896 percent, from 2.913 percent late on Wednesday. Earlier in the session, 10-year yields hit a more than four-year peak of 2.944 percent. U.S. 30-year yields dropped to 3.146 percent from Wednesday's 3.177 percent. U.S. 2-year yields, meanwhile, rose to 2.184 percent, compared with 2.172 percent on Wednesday. Two-year yields earlier hit a more than nine-year peak of 2.213 percent. The U.S. Treasury's auction of $7 billion in 30-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities on Thursday showed mixed results, with a yield of 1.003 percent, the highest at an auction of this maturity in two years, Treasury data showed.
The ratio of bids to the amount of 30-year TIPS offered was 2.31, the lowest reading in a year. Analysts said the somewhat lukewarm response to the auction seem to suggest acute inflation fears for now.
Thursday, Feb. 15 at 1446 EST (1946 GMT): Price
US T BONDS MAR8 143-30/32 0-18/32 10YR TNotes MAR8 120-108/256 0-24/256 Price Current Net Yield Change (pct) (bps) Three-month bills 1.57 1.5981 0.010 Six-month bills 1.78 1.821 0.018 Two-year note 99-166/256 2.1844 0.012 Three-year note 99-144/256 2.4021 0.005 Five-year note 98-198/256 2.6405 0.000 Seven-year note 97-244/256 2.8261 -0.010 10-year note 98-188/256 2.8967 -0.016 30-year bond 97-40/256 3.1472 -0.030
DOLLAR SWAP SPREADS
Last (bps) Net
U.S. 2-year dollar swap 27.75 0.50
U.S. 3-year dollar swap 20.25 1.50
U.S. 5-year dollar swap 10.00 0.50
U.S. 10-year dollar swap 1.50 0.25
U.S. 30-year dollar swap -16.50 0.00
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)