July 5, 2018 / 7:46 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. yield curve stays historically flat after Fed minutes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. shorter-dated Treasury yields increased slightly on Thursday following the Federal Reserve’s release of the minutes from its latest policy meeting, where it hinted at the probability of raising short-term interest rates twice more in 2018.

The U.S. yield curve held near its flattest level in about 11 years following the release of the minutes.

“There was remarkably little off-market in the minutes,” said Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. interest rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York. “It’s like the Fed threw a minutes and no one came.”

Treasury yields were narrowly mixed throughout the day as some investors trimmed their bond holdings and stepped back into stocks following reassuring economic data from Germany and on hopes the Trump administration may back away from slapping tariffs on European-made cars.

U.S. financial markets were closed on Wednesday for the Independence Day holiday.

Bond traders were cautious about making big changes to their positions ahead of the government’s June payrolls report due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) on Friday.

“No one wants to trade too many bonds this week until they see major data that depict what is happening with the underlying economy,” said Jim Vogel, interest rates strategist at FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee.

More job growth and a decline in unemployment will likely support more rate hikes from the Fed, analysts said.

The U.S.-China trade dispute also occupied traders’ minds on Thursday, with tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports set to take effect at 0401 GMT on Friday.

Fed policymakers at the June 12-13 meeting said trade policy risks had intensified and were concerning, according to the minutes.

“If the FOMC was not worried about a trade war, that would be a concern. But they are worried,” said Lyngen.

The spread between five-year and 30-year Treasury yields US5US30=TWEB hit 20.80 basis points, the tightest since July 2007, while the gap between two-year and 10-year yields US2US10=TWEB touched 27.30 basis points, the narrowest since August 2007, Reuters data showed.

At 3:20 p.m. (1920 GMT), the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR was 2.838 percent, flat on the day.

Thursday’s economic reports signaled the U.S. labor market remains tight, which may allow the Fed to raise interest rates further.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers hired 177,000 workers in June, fewer than the 190,000 increase analysts had forecast.

The Labor Department said first-time filings for jobless benefits unexpectedly grew by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 231,000 for the week ended June 30.

July 5 Thursday 3:23PM New York / 1923 GMT

Reporting by James Thorne and Richard Leong; Editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler

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