US Treasurys Rise as Investors Look for Safety

Even Muni Bonds May Be Targeted in 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks

Prices for U.S. Treasurys gained on Wednesday as sinking stock prices spooked investors into scooping up safe-haven government debt.

Major U.S. stock indexes posted losses of more than 1 percent, a third straight session of swings of that magnitude.

Commodities were sinking similarly on Wednesday, with Brent crude oil below $99 per barrel on expectations that slower economic growth will lessen demand for oil.

"As soon as the buying direction came from the Weidmann comments this morning, that set things in motion," said Jim Vogel, head of interest rate strategy at FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee. "Each new buy just took us lower" in yields.

European Central Bank Governing Council member Jens Weidmann said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that Europe's economic recovery could take as much as another decade.

(Read More: Fed Doves Play Down Threat of US Inflation)

"The calm that we are currently seeing might be treacherous," he warned, adding that it could delay government and EU reform drives.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year notes rose 6/32 in price, their yields easing to 1.704 percent from 1.73 percent late on Tuesday.

Thirty-year bonds rose 15/32 in price, their yields easing to 2.886 percent from 2.91 percent late Tuesday.

Further supporting Treasurys, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the Federal Reserve should buy bonds if inflation continues to fall, stressing the U.S. central bank needs to prevent inflation from being too far below its target.

Year-over-year consumer price index inflation readings have come in below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target in four of the last five months.

That could mean the Fed will keep up its stimulus program, a bid to prop up the economy and thus the labor market, longer than expected.

The U.S. central bank is currently buying $85 billion per month in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities, and speculation about when policymakers might slow or stop that buying has been a key question for U.S. government debt this year.

The Fed also said on Wednesday that price pressures remain subdued as the economy grows at a moderate pace.

"Aside from reports of increases in home prices and residential construction materials, price pressures remained mostly subdued across Districts," the Fed said in releasing its Beige Book survey.

US Treasury Yields

US 10-YR
US 30-YR