Treasurys rise on signs of slowdown in Europe

AP News
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Posted: Mar 02, 2012 3:56 PM
Treasurys rise on signs of slowdown in Europe

Traders bid up U.S. Treasury debt Friday after economic data from Europe stirred fears of a global slowdown and boosted demand for the ultra-safe investments.

Retail sales in Germany plunged 1.6 percent in January. Analysts had expected a 0.6 percent jump, according to a FactSet survey.

The report was the latest signal that Europe might be headed for a recession. A separate survey released Thursday said manufacturing in Europe is slowing, dragged down by the near-collapse of industry in Greece and other financially troubled nations.

Germany's retail sales numbers are important because the country is Europe's economic powerhouse. Germany's solid growth offsets economic distress in weaker nations, shoring up regional measures of growth and the euro group's collective creditworthiness.

Traders bought Treasurys, fearing that an economic slowdown would cause higher-risk investments like stocks to lose value.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note rose 44 cents for every $100 invested, pushing its yield down to 1.99 percent late Friday from 2.03 percent late Thursday.

Bond yields fall as demand for them increases. That means traders are willing to accept an even tinier return in exchange for holding an asset that is seen as safe.

Treasury prices had decreased over the previous three days on speculation that the Federal Reserve probably won't launch another round of bond-buying to support the recovery. Encouraging economic signs in the U.S. and rising gas prices make such intervention less likely.

In other trading, the price of the 30-year Treasury bond rose 60 cents per $100 invested, pushing its yield down to 3.12 percent from 3.14 percent late Thursday.

The yield on the two-year Treasury note fell to 0.28 from 0.29. The three-month Treasury bill paid a yield of 0.06 percent.