(Adds details on data, quotes, updates prices)
* Consumer prices post largest gain in 4 years
* Chances of Fed rate increase in March seen increasing
* Goldman, JPMorgan bring forward hike expectations
By Karen Brettell
NEW YORK, Feb 15 Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields
rose to 2-1/2-week highs on Wednesday after data showing surging
consumer price inflation in January bolstered expectations that
the Federal Reserve is closer to raising interest rates.
The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index jumped
0.6 percent last month after gaining 0.3 percent in December.
January's increase in the CPI was the largest since February
"CPI was much higher than expected, both the headline itself
as well as the core number," said Mary Ann Hurley, vice
president in fixed income trading at D.A. Davidson in Seattle.
Data from the Commerce Department showed that retail sales
rose 0.4 percent last month as households bought electronics and
a range of other goods.
Benchmark 10-year notes were last down 11/32 in
price to yield 2.51 percent. Those yields earlier rose as high
as 2.52 percent, the highest since Jan. 27.
"The 10-year over 2.50 (percent) directed some buying and
there were some unwinds of some cross-market trades that were
going on," said Tom Tucci, head of Treasuries trading at CIBC in
Much of the inflation increase in the CPI data was
attributable to a jump in gas prices, which may not prove
sustainable, Tucci said.
Wednesday's data came after Fed Chair Janet Yellen adopted a
more hawkish tone than expected during testimony to lawmakers in
Washington on Tuesday, which raised expectations that the U.S.
central bank will hike interest rates in the coming months.
"She definitely seemed to indicate that there were rate
hikes coming, and more than one coming," Hurley said.
Traders are pricing in a 27 percent chance of a rate
increase at the Fed's March meeting, up from 13 percent on
Monday, according to the CME Group's FedWatch Tool.
Goldman Sachs on Wednesday raised its expectations that the
Fed will hike rates in the first half of 2017, and J.P. Morgan
brought forward its forecast of the next rate increase to May.
Wage growth data in February's jobs report, which will be
released a week and a half before the Fed's March meeting, will
likely be crucial in deciding whether the U.S. central bank can
hikes rates that month.
"The wage component of the jobs number will be highly
scrutinized for the potential for the Fed to move," said Tucci.
Treasury prices rallied earlier this month after January's
jobs report showed disappointing wage growth.
(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Jeffrey Benkoe)