Treasuries slid Wednesday, with the long bond leading the way, after a morning of mixed readings on income, spending and manufacturing. The 10-year ended the day down 10/32 of a point to yield 4.59%, while the 30-year bond slid 27/32 to yield 4.56%. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. In shorter-dated maturities, the two-year edged lower 1/32 to yield 4.70% and the five-year notes fell 4/32 of a point to yield 4.63%. "The selloff, particularly at the long end, has been subject to much debate. I think it really looks like some unwinding positions," says Richard Gilhooly, interest rate strategist at BNP Paribas. "And with the
30-year leading the selloff during midday, it points to the fact that some people are no longer seeing real value in the long bond," Gilhooly says. The market is gearing up for Thursday's weekly jobless claims data, but there is little else on tap to guide the market going into the latter half of the week. Steve Bohlin, portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management, says traders are treating the long bond with caution while overall economic trends seem to stay strong. "Barring seeing some really weak number that would lead you to believe this economy is going into a recession, one has to be wary of the long end of the curve," Bohlin says. "It could unwind in a heartbeat, and then everyone will be heading for the exit." But the market didn't get clear signs of strength or weakness Wednesday. The February ISM index up nearly 2 points to 56.7, slightly higher than forecasts for the index to hit 56.0, with new orders, production and employment all posting gains. New orders, which carries the heaviest weight of the components, reached 61.9 in February, its highest level since December 2004. But January construction spending growth came in much softer than forecast, up 0.2% vs. forecasts for a 0.7% gain. This was the weakest reading in seven months. January personal spending rose by 0.9%, vs. expectations for a 1.1% gain, while personal income rose by 0.7% vs. expectations for a 0.6% gain. Moreover, one of the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation gauges, the core PCE price index, softened year-on-year. The core PCE index gained 1.8% on the year, despite the surge in energy prices.
Moreover, the housing market seems to be holding up, despite worries that prices could collapse. Fixed 30-year mortgages dipped last week to 6.18%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, even while applications declined 1.2%. Also, average U.S. home prices increased 12.95% from the fourth quarter of 2004 through the fourth quarter of 2005, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. "Despite recent indications that a slowdown may be forthcoming, house price appreciation during 2005 continued to hover at near-record levels," says OFHEO Chief Economist Patrick Lawler. The mixed bag of data left the Treasury market within its previously established boundaries. "How many more ways can we say this market is staying rangebound?" Barclays fixed-income analysts wrote in a research note. "One step forward, one step back has been the pattern. ... While Wednesday is chock full of data, we do not see a clear catalyst that would precipitate a large move in rates." In Fed news, University of Chicago economist Randall Kroszner was sworn in as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board, filling the seat vacated by Edward Gramlich last August. Fellow Fed governor nominee Kevin Warsh was sworn in last week. With Kroszner and Warsh on the board, President George W. Bush will have appointed all seven members of the central bank's governing body, the first president to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1988.