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Treasury yields slip amid ECB rate decision, inflation data

U.S. government debt yields slipped on Thursday after the European Central Bank said it will end its enormous bond-buying program at the end of December.

The end of the central bank's so-called quantitative easing policy will result in a steep drop in the amount of debt purchased by the ECB, from 15 billion euros per month to zero. 

At 9:51 a.m. ET, The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note drifted lower to 2.9 percent, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond dipped to 3.143 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

The ECB's asset purchasing program — under which the bank bought more than 2.6 trillion euros ($2.9 trillion) — was introduced in March 2015 in a bid to rescue the euro zone economy from deflationary forces and rebuild confidence.

Trade relations between the U.S. and China continue to dominate the headlines, as the two countries attempt to resolve their differences during a 90-day period for talks.

President Trump earlier this week tweeted that discussions with Beijing had been "very productive" and that some "important announcements" were forthcoming.

Trump has also said he would intervene in the Department of Justice's case against Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of China's Huawei, if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.

On Tuesday, the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index showed no change in inflation from the previous month, following a 0.3 percent rise in October. In the last 12 months, the headline index increased 2.2 percent, down from the October year-on-year reading of 2.5 percent. Core CPI, which does not include volatile energy or food prices, increased 0.2 percent in November and is up 2.2 percent in the past 12 months.

Investors continue to look ahead to an upcoming two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which is scheduled to take place on Dec. 18-19. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates, however expectations for further hikes next year have tempered lately due to fears of waning economic growth.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. 
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Trump criticized the Fed's rate hiking path again recently, saying it would be "foolish" for the central bank to hike the federal funds rate. He said he thought of Fed Chair Jerome Powell as a "good man," but that he disagreed with his "aggressive" stance on monetary policy.

Elsewhere in Europe, fixed-income investors looked to political developments in the U.K., after Prime Minister Theresa May won a vote of confidence from her fellow Conservative lawmakers. May's relief over winning the vote may be short-lived, however, as she still has to convince disgruntled Conservatives as well as opposition parliamentarians to vote for her Brexit deal.