US 10-year Treasury yield retreats from 4-year high

U.S. government debt prices fell from recent highs Friday despite hotter-than-expected import prices and housing starts data.

In the previous trading session, U.S. government debt yields achieved new highs, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury touching 2.944 percent, a new four-year high. The 2-year Treasury yield touched its highest level since 2008 Thursday.

As of the latest reading, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.871 percent at 4:31 p.m. ET, down from a 4-year high of 2.94 percent reached Thursday. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also down at 3.13 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

The yield on the 2-year note hovered at 2.194 percent.

"I think it's just taking a pause. I think the market started to run out of steam. We saw some buying coming in, and we're seeing a bounce," said John Briggs, head of strategy at NatWest Markets. Normally Treasurys would sell off on strong data, like Friday's housing starts and on the inflationary message in the jump in import prices.

U.S. new housing construction jumped to more than a one-year high in January, supported by construction of single-family housing units. Housing starts jumped 9.7 percent to an adjusted annual rate of 1.326 million units, the Commerce Department said on Friday, the highest level since October 2016.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to a pace of 1.234 million units.

Import prices also rose more than expected in January, with the cost of petroleum and other goods ticking upward. The Labor Department said on Friday that import prices jumped 1.0 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.2 percent rise in December. Economists had expected import prices increasing 0.6 percent in January after a previously reported 0.1 percent gain in December.

The higher prices on imported goods are the latest data point this week hinting at stronger inflation.

In the 12 months through January, import prices increased 3.6 percent, the largest advance since April 2017.

Investors will also be paying close attention to how equity markets worldwide are performing, as concerns over higher interest rates continue to rattle sentiment.