Treasury yields fall after weak retail sales data spurs economic unease


U.S. government debt yields slipped on Friday after the U.S. government said that last month's clothing sales represented the largest month-over-month decrease since March 2009.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that retail sales excluding automobiles, gas, building materials and food services were unchanged last month while data for December was revised downward to show so-called core sales up 0.2% instead of the 0.5% jump previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core retail sales rising 0.3% last month.

The lackluster retail data was enough to kindle modest unease on Wall Street before the opening of trade, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipping to 1.58%. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond fell to 2.034% while the 2-year yield receded to 1.426%.


Market focus across asset classes on the week's last day of trading was still largely centered on the spread of China's virulent coronavirus.

Beijing for the first time on Friday announced information that underscored the risk taken by those helping treat the infected: 1,716 medical workers have contracted the disease while six of them have died.

China's National Health Commission on Friday reported 5,090 new coronavirus cases and 121 new deaths in the prior 24 hours, bringing the total number infected to 63,851 and at least 1,380 dead. The sum in Hubei spiked on Thursday after authorities changed the criteria for counting new cases.

The U.S. has suggested it "does not have high confidence in the information" coming out of the world's second-largest economy.