JAN 28, 2013 12:25pm ET

Ten-Year Treasury Yield Rises to 2% for First Time Since April

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Long-term rate-indicative 10-year Treasury note yields touched 2% for the first time since April as orders for durable goods in the U.S. rose more than forecast, another signal the U.S. economic recovery may be strengthening.

The benchmark yield rose even as Fitch Ratings said the temporary suspension of the U.S. debt limit removes the near- term risk to the nation’s AAA credit rating. Federal Reserve officials start a two-day meeting tomorrow as investors speculate when policy makers will begin to slow stimulus. The U.S. will sell $35 billion in two-year securities today, the first of three note auctions totaling $99 billion this week.

“The economy is probably getting on better footing,” said Scott Sherman, an interest-rate strategist in New York at Credit Suisse Group AG, one of 21 primary dealers that trade directly with the central bank. “People down the road will start speculating when the Fed is going to unwind.”

Benchmark 10-year note yield rose four basis points, or 0.04percentage point, to 1.98% as of 11:11 a.m. New York time, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader data, after rising as high as 2%, the highest since April 25. The price of the 1.625% security due in November 2022 fell 9/32, or $2.81 per $1,000 face value, to 96 26/32. The yield is still less than the average over the past decade of 3.64%.

“The Treasury market is trading like a beach ball—you just can’t hold rates down, they keep jumping back up,” said William O’Donnell, head U.S. government-bond strategist in Stamford, Connecticut, at Royal Bank of Scotland’s RBS Securities unit, a primary dealer. “There is a lot of resistance lining up about 2%, at 2.09/10 area. A lot of bearish channels and trend lines come in there—that’s why we’ve been sporting this 1.7 to 2.1 range.”

Resistance is an area on a price graph where analysts anticipate sell orders to be clustered.

RBS forecasts the 10-year yield to decline to 1.90% by end of 2013. The yield will rise to 2.25% at year-end, according to the weighted average forecast of 76 economists in a Bloomberg survey,

Orders for durable goods in the U.S. rose 4.6% in December after a 0.7% gain the prior month, a Commerce Department report showed in Washington. The median forecast of 76 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 2% gain in overall orders.

“The headline looks pretty strong,” Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at primary dealer RBC Capital Markets LLC, said of the durable-goods report. “The biggest report is the payroll, and that’s where our attention will shift this week.”

Employers added 161,000 workers in January, after a 155,000 increase in December, a separate survey showed before the Feb. 1 report from the Labor Department. Other data this week may show manufacturing is stabilizing and consumer spending increased, based on responses from economists.

Treasuries pared losses as pending U.S. home sales declined in December for the first time since August, with the index falling 4.3% to 101.7 after a revised 1.6% increase the prior month, the National Association of Realtors reported today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey projected no change.

U.S government debt has handed investors a 0.9% loss in January, the worst monthly performance since March, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. The MSCI All-Country World Index of shares gained 5.4% in January including reinvested dividends, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Yields climbed last week when the European Central Bank said lender will repay more of its loans than forecast, spurring optimism the worst of the region’s debt crisis is over.

The ECB said lenders will pay back 137.2 billion euros ($184.7 billion) of its three-year loans, so-called longer-term refinancing operations, this week. The figure compares with the median forecast of 84 billion euros in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Fed policy makers said they may end their $85 billion monthly bond purchases sometime in 2013, with members divided between a mid- or end-of-year finish, according to the record of the Federal Open Market Committee’s Dec. 11-12 gathering.

Central banks in the U.S., the U.K. and Japan are all buying bonds to pump money into their economies as they try to spur growth. The ECB has indicated it is willing to do so.

“Bond yields depend on how long Fed stays low & when/if U.S. reaches 6.5% unemployment, 2.5% inflation,” Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, wrote in a Twitter post. “My estimate: 2015.”

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