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January 2009
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Treasury Down After Bernanke Says Fed May Buy US Debt

Treasury prices declined Tuesday as yields moved higher, with bond traders playing off Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke’s comments restating that the U.S. central bank could buy longer-term Treasury’s to keep loan rates low. Last week, mortgage rates dropped below 5% on thirty year mortgage loans and FHA home loans.

More aid to the banking system would be needed to foster an economic recovery, Bernanke also said in a speech he delivered in London. Two-year note yields (UST2YR) rose 4 basis points to 0.79%. A basis point is one one-hundredth of a percent. Ten-year note yields (UST10Y) were little changed at 2.31%.

The timing and strength of any global recovery remain “highly uncertain,” Bernanke said. The Fed has begun a plan to buy billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities and debt sold by housing agencies including Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) to lower mortgage rates and spur growth in the housing market.

So far, the program has been successful in bringing down mortgage interest rates by reducing the gap between Treasury’s is a benchmark for many types of home loans, and yields on mortgage or agencies bonds. Bernanke also said it may expand its program to buy asset-backed securities, which pool borrowings such as car loans and credit-card debt. Also Tuesday, a government report showed the U.S. trade deficit in November plunged to $40.4 billion, reflecting weakening demand for imports as the nation’s economic woes deepened


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