US Treasury yields slip as trade concerns linger, capital goods orders miss expectations

U.S. government debt yields slipped Wednesday as lingering trade concerns and an unexpected decline in the number of new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods weighed on economic sentiment.

Trade disputes continued to rattle investor sentiment around the world on Wednesday. President Donald Trump threatened a 20 percent tariff on all car imports from the EU last week, adding that if the EU chose not to remove its duties on American vehicles, then the U.S. would have no choice but to act on those levies.

Meanwhile, a senior official from the State Department told reporters that businesses that purchase Iranian crude oil must cut those exports entirely by the beginning of November — or face sanctions.

The trade woes came as the Commerce Department reported Wednesday that new orders for U.S.-made capital goods and shipments fell unexpectedly in May. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft slipped 0.2 percent against economist expectations of a 0.5 percent rise.

Shipments of core capital goods dipped 0.1 percent last month.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note held slightly lower at 2.829 percent at 4:00 p.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond slipped to 2.971 percent, also off its lows. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

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Granting yields some levity, President Donald Trump said in a statement Wednesday that his administration will not be looking to block companies with 25 percent or more of Chinese ownership from buying certain U.S. tech-related companies. Instead, the White House will rely on the newly strengthened Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to deal with concerns of foreign purchase of sensitive domestic technologies.

"One thing that may hurt the safe haven bid is that the Trump administration backed off its hard stance on China. This could ease trade war tensions, giving a green light for investors to take a more risk‐on approach," said Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James.

Two members of the U.S. Federal Reserve are due to speak. In Washington, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will be at the 2018 Annual O. John Olcay Lecture on Ethics and Economics at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, while in Idaho, Fed Vice Chairman of Supervision Randal Quarles will appear at the Utah Bankers Association 110th annual convention.