U.S. Government Bonds Pull Back

By Min Zeng Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. government bonds pulled back for a second straight session on Tuesday as demand for haven bonds continued to retreat amid a rally in stocks.

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The Nasdaq rose above 6,000 for the first time Tuesday, a sign of robust demand for riskier assets that reduces the allure of haven bonds.

In recent trading, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was 2.307%, according to Tradeweb, compared with 2.275% Monday. Yields rise as bond prices fall.

Risk appetite has improved following Sunday's first round of French presidential elections. A mainstream candidate prevailed as expected by many investors, reducing worries over a potential France's exit out of the eurozone. This factor continued to boost sentiment Tuesday.

"Risk on continues," said Larry Milstein, head of government and agency trading at R.W. Pressprich Co. "Markets were very concerned going into the first round given how close the top four candidates were and the risk of two extremist candidates potentially moving on to the second round." Also hurting bonds: Concerns over a shutdown of the U.S. federal government have also dialed back after President Donald Trump signaled willingness to wait longer to secure funding on his call for a border wall. Congress needs to pass a resolution this Friday when funding for the federal government is set to expire.

Higher yields were also driven by some optimism toward Mr. Trump's updates on his tax plan scheduled Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday afternoon that Mr. Trump has ordered White House aides to accelerate efforts to draft a tax plan slashing the corporate rate to 15%.

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The 10-year Treasury yield has risen from a five-month low of 2.177% set on April 18. It traded above 2.6% in mid-March.

After a big rise since Mr. Trump won the election in November, the 10-year Treasury yield has been pulling back over the past weeks. That shows confidence is waning toward his fiscal agenda. Selling Treasurys has been one of the popular trades for investors to bet that large fiscal stimulus would lead to stronger economic growth and higher inflation.

Some traders say the yield is unlikely to revisit 2.6% any time soon given the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal policy and economic growth outlook.

U.S. economic data have flagged some caution over the growth momentum. Tuesday, new home sales rose by 5.8%, a sign of a robust housing market. But a monthly gauge of consumer confidence fell to 120.3 from 124.9 in March.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect the U.S. government to report Friday that the U.S. economy grew at 1% during the first quarter of the year, down from 2.1% during the last quarter of 2016.

Another focus for bond investors this week is the European Central Bank's policy meeting Thursday. Some analysts say reduced political risk in France may allow the ECB to reduce monetary stimulus earlier than many investors expect, especially with data out of the eurozone showing improvement. This may drive investors to sell eurozone government bonds such as German bunds and the selling pressure could ripple into Treasury debt, traders say.

A $26 billion sale of two-year notes is due at 1 p.m. Tuesday, the first leg of this week's auctions that focus on shorter-term maturities.

Write to Min Zeng at min.zeng@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 25, 2017 12:04 ET (16:04 GMT)