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BOND REPORT: Tresury Yields Edge Up From 4-week Low On Equities Rally

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05/19/2017 | 05:12pm CEST

By Sunny Oh

Treasurys continue to linger below 2.30%

Treasury yields extended their rise on Friday after a surge in equities more than offset New York Fed President James Bullard's comments suggesting the Fed could pull back on its "aggressive" monetary tightening schedule in light of weak economic data.

The 10-year Treasury note added 2.6 basis points to 2.255%. Bond prices move inversely to yields; one basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point. The 2-year Treasury note gained 0.4 basis point to 1.274%, while the 30-year note, or the long bond, rose 1.5 basis point to 2.916%.

Treasury yields followed stocks higher as a brief quiet settled on the White House, with the S&P 500 index climbing 0.65% to 2381 points on Friday. Yields tend to follow stocks because stocks and bonds represent opposite poles on a continuum of risk. So if investors are bullish on economic growth, stocks will rally at the expense of bonds. Albeit, prices for both assets have recently moved alongside each other.

But in the past week, bonds have mostly rallied as analysts feel controversy swirling around the White House may prevent Trump from delivering on his infrastructure bill and other pro-growth policies, which would buoy inflation and hurt the value of bond's fixed payments. President Donald Trump is fighting back against allegations that members of his election campaign had various interactions with the Kremlin and its associates .

"Markets are repricing as the odds of a tax reform bill are falling. They are surmising that the Trump economic agenda is now injured. They see Congress as likely to be bogged down in investigations and hearings. They see businesspersons and investors going to the sidelines because they do not know what the new rules will be," said David Kotok, chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors, in a note.

Traders turned their focus to two Fed speakers on the docket to see if the Federal Reserve will hike rates in June, once a near-certainty, as turmoil in Washington, D.C. looks to jeopardize expectations of two more rate hikes this year. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange's FedWatch tool (http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/interest-rates/countdown-to-fomc.html)shows bond investors expect a 73.8% chance of June rate hike after 87.7% in May 10. Higher rates reduce the attraction of holding bonds as existing debt needs to be discounted to match the higher returns of newer issuance.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a non-voting member of the central bank, cast doubt on two further rates hikes this year as the current timetable for monetary tightening was "overly aggressive relative to actual incoming data on U.S. macroeconomic performance." But Treasury yields appeared to ignore his remarks.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams, also a non-voting member of the central bank, will give a talk to El Camino High School students at 1:40 p.m. Eastern. Williams, a hawkish member of the Fed, has said he wants to taper the balance sheet this year.

"It will be interesting to see if his views have changed recently in response to the turbulence in Washington or if he changes things around due to his audience being high-school students," said Thomas Simons, a senior money market economist, in a note.

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