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U.S. Government Bonds Edge Higher Ahead of FOMC Minutes

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01/03/2018 | 04:33pm CEST
By Akane Otani 

U.S. government bond prices firmed Wednesday ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's December policy meeting.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was recently at 2.442%, according to Tradeweb, compared with 2.465% Tuesday.

Yields, which fall as bond prices rise, declined overnight, then wobbled early Wednesday. Later in the trading session, investors will get a look at minutes from the Fed's Dec. 12-13 meeting, where officials raised short-term interest rates and penciled in three quarter-point rate increases for 2018.

The fact that two Fed policy committee members voted against the December rate hike had surprised some analysts.

Wednesday's minutes could give investors insight into whether other nonvoting officials raised concerns about raising rates, analysts say, as well as provide clues on the timing of future rate increases, the Fed's views on the economic impact of tax cuts and the central bank's inflation outlook.

Tepid inflation had kept pressure on longer-term Treasury bond yields throughout 2017, with the yield on the 10-year note ending the year at 2.409%, slightly below where it settled at the end of 2016.

A faster-than-expected rise in inflation could reverse that trend, although some investors and analysts have expressed skepticism over how quickly prices can climb.

"The scenario is pretty much the same: if inflation becomes present, then long rates will likely rise. If not, then what else is going to bring out the sellers?" said Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James.

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

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