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Treasury Yields Wobble Near Multiyear High

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05/16/2018 | 04:50pm CEST

By Akane Otani

U.S. government bond prices inched higher a day after a bout of selling sent yields on the benchmark 10-year note to levels last touched nearly seven years ago.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was recently at 3.078%, according to Tradeweb, compared with 3.082% Tuesday -- the highest close since July 2011.

Bond yields, which fall as prices rise, struggled for direction overnight as reports showed North Korea threatening to pull out of a June summit and antiestablishment parties in Italy discussing a $300 billion write-off from the European Central Bank.

Signs of geopolitical uncertainty helped drum up some demand for Treasurys, although analysts warned bonds would likely remain under pressure in the absence of significantly weak U.S. economic data.

Economic reports were mixed Wednesday, showing U.S. housing starts falling more than expected in April, but industrial output -- reflecting everything produced by factories, mines and utilities -- rising for a third straight month.

"The recovery in residential housing construction remains an incomplete story with danger signs on the horizon from higher interest rates," wrote Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG. And the data on industrial output came with a caveat, too, with increases in mining production -- driven by rising oil prices- -- behind much of the move, according to Mr. Rupkey.

Together, the data -- which gave neither a definitively positive nor negative look at the economy -- provided investors few reasons to make big moves following Tuesday's selloff, which had marked the biggest one-day advance in 10-year yields since March 2017.

"Ten-year notes are now most likely locked in [between] 3.09% to 3.03% awaiting fresh news to break the range," said Tom di Galoma, managing director and head of Treasury trading at Seaport Global Holdings.

Write to Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com

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