Interest rates rose Monday in the bond market on fresh signs the economy is continuing its slow, steady recovery.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note briefly touched 4 percent for the first time in intraday trading since June. It hasn't ended the day above 4 percent since before the credit crisis erupted in late 2008. The yield is often used as a benchmark for consumer loans.
The 10-year note yield rose as high as 4.00 percent Monday, before pulling back to 3.99 percent. It ended Friday's holiday-abbreviated trading session at 3.94 percent. The bond market closed early for Good Friday.
The price of the note maturing in February 2020 fell 12/32 to 97 2/32 in afternoon trading. An auction for 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities had little effect on trading.
Monday's yield on the 10-year note was its highest since October 2008 when it hit 4.09 percent. That came just before the credit crisis peaked and investors bought up safe Treasuries, sending yields plummeting. The yield fell as low as 2.06 percent by December 2008 before slowly starting to recover.
Treasury yields have been rising recently because of weak demand at new auctions and continued signs of economic growth. Yields typically rise and prices fall when the economy improves because investors will pull money out of safe, government-backed bonds and opt for riskier investments, like stocks, that have the potential for bigger returns.
Inflation also typically increases when the economy is strong, so Treasury yields and interest rates must move higher to keep pace.
The government auctioned $8 billion of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, Monday. The bid-to-cover ratio was 3.43, much stronger than the demand seen for TIPS in January and February. Demand for the notes can climb when inflation is a concern since it protects investments from rising prices.
Monday brought two fresh signs of economic improvement that sent investors out of Treasuries and into stocks. A private trade group said the service sector grew in March at its fastest pace since 2007 and the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index for February jumped more than expected.
The Institute for Supply Management's service sector index rose to 55.4 in March, from 53 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector, which covers about 80 percent of the nation's work force and the majority of economic activity.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters forecast the index would rise to 54.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors said its index of sales agreements rose 8.2 percent to 97.6 in February. Economists had been predicting the index would fall to 90.3.
In other trading, the yield on the two-year note that matures in March 2012 rose to 1.17 percent from 1.11 percent. Its price fell 4/32 to 99 21/32.
The yield on 30-year bond that matures in February 2040 rose to 4.83 percent from 4.80 percent. The price fell 12/32 to 96 27/32.
The yield on the three-month T-bill that matures July 1 rose to 0.17 percent from 0.16 percent.
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