U.S. government bond prices rose Wednesday after the Treasury auctioned 10-year debt at a record low yield.
Demand for safe investments like U.S. government bonds has increased because of continued nervousness ahead of elections in Greece this weekend. Investors are also worried that the pace of the U.S. economic recovery is slowing.
The Treasury Department raised $21 billion from a sale of 10-year notes at a yield of 1.62 percent, the lowest on record. Bond buyers placed $3.06 in bids for every $1 on offer, lower than the $3.29 average of the previous four.
The 10-year Treasury note rose 53.12 cents for every $100 invested. The 10-year yield fell to 1.60 percent, compared with 1.66 percent late Tuesday.
The price of the 30-year Treasury bond rose $1.75 for every $100. That pushed its yield down to 2.71 percent from 2.77 percent late Tuesday.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that a sharp drop in gas prices pulled down overall retail sales in April and May by 0.2 percent. Excluding volatile gas station sales, retail sales grew only modestly in May and dipped in April.
The report could lead economists to lower their outlooks for April-June economic growth.
Much more spending is needed to lift to an economy that has limped along since the Great Recession ended three years ago. Hiring has slowed sharply this spring. And unemployment remains high at 8.2 percent.
Wage increases are trailing inflation. And Europe's debt crisis has kept investors and companies on edge.
The yield on the two-year note fell to 0.28 percent from 0.29 percent.
In the market for short-term bills, the yield on the three-month Treasury bill was 0.09 percent.