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TREASURIES-Uncertainty, positioning push yields to fresh lows
February 8, 2017 / 4:29 PM / 9 months ago

TREASURIES-Uncertainty, positioning push yields to fresh lows

* Uncertainty over Trump, Fed, Europe push Treasury yields lower

* 5-year yields hit lowest since December

* 7- and 10-year yields hit lowest since mid-January

By Dion Rabouin

NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury yields fell to their lowest levels in multiple weeks on Wednesday with 5-year note yields hitting their lowest since Dec. 8 as a flight to safety and technical positioning encouraged investors to buy U.S. government debt.

Yields on 7-, 10- and 30-year Treasuries fell to their lowest levels since mid-January.

Buying has picked up this week as analysts say the market is reducing its expectations of the number of forthcoming interest rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve and of fiscal stimulus policies and tax cuts from the administration of President Donald Trump.

Uncertainty about European politics also sent a wave of overseas buyers to Treasuries, which offer a sizeable yield premium over government bonds from countries in Europe.

“Overseas there’s this issue of political risk, most notably France, Germany and Italy, on the rise,” said Stan Shipley, a strategist at Evercore ISI. “This is about the problems of the French presidential election, Merkel’s fall in her polls and all that.”

Recent polls have shown German Chancellor Angela Merkel falling behind the country’s Social Democratic Party candidate ahead of this year’s elections. Polls have also suggested France’s Marine Le Pen, who has championed pulling the country out of the European Union, is gaining steam. Italian markets have been shaken since a vote late last year against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reform referendum that sent him out of office.

“People are saying I don’t know what’s going on over in Europe and I want to get into something safer, most notably U.S. Treasuries,” Shipley said.

He also noted that benchmark 10-year note yields have drifted below their 50-day moving average and a couple key technical levels, increasing buying.

Additionally, Treasuries have been heavily correlated to movements in the Japanese yen. The yen has been a traditional safe-haven currency that investors have flocked to in times of uncertainty as they unwind bullish bets.

The dollar was down half a percent against the yen, nearing its lowest against the Japanese currency since late November.

Market participants are also looking to Wednesday’s U.S. Treasury auction of $23 billion of 10-year notes at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT).

The 10-year note was last up 11/32 in price to yield 2.349 percent, down 4 basis points from its late Tuesday levels.

Reporting by Dion Rabouin; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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