May 2, 2018 / 7:31 AM / a year ago

Euro zone bond yields edge up before Q1 GDP data, Fed

* Q1 euro zone GDP data due out

* US Fed concludes 2-day meeting

* US quarterly refunding announcement also due

* Euro zone bond yields higher

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields

By Dhara Ranasinghe

LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) - Euro zone government bond yields rose on Wednesday, taking their cue from a selloff in the U.S. bond market ahead of euro economic growth data that could shed light on the extent of a softening in growth momentum at the start of the year.

With much of Europe closed on Tuesday for the May Day holiday, early trading was subdued with an overnight rise in U.S. Treasury yields weighing on sentiment.

Most 10-year bond yields in the single currency bloc were up 1-2 basis points on the day. Germany’s Bund yield climbed to 0.58 percent, but held below six-week highs set last week above 0.65 percent.

Bond traders turned their focus to the first reading of economic growth in the first quarter of the year - a number that is drawing more attention than usual given signs of softening in the euro zone economy.

Economists polled by Reuters said they thought the euro zone economy grew 2.5 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2018, compared with a 2.7 percent increase in the previous quarter.

“National GDPs released so far point to a sharper slowdown in Q1 than forecast,” analysts at Mizuho said in a note.

A softening in the euro zone’s strong growth momentum and still subdued inflation have prompted investors to push back their European Central Bank rate-hike expectations.

Money market pricing suggests investors expect the ECB to hike rates around mid-2019, roughly six months after the central bank is anticipated to end its stimulus scheme.

In contrast, the U.S. Federal Reserve is in the middle of a rate-hiking cycle although no changes to monetary policy are expected when the bank concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday.

Still, its comments are likely to be scrutinised given signs that inflationary pressures are picking up. Tuesday’s Institute for Supply Management survey for instance pointed to a pick-up in price pressures for U.S. firms.

“It is this concern around inflation and the robustness of the U.S. economy that is likely to dominate when the Fed concludes its meeting,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

“It will offer policymakers a decent opportunity to critique the health of the U.S. economy ahead of next month’s largely expected rise in interest rates.”

U.S. Treasury yields also faced upward pressure ahead of Wednesday’s quarterly refunding announcement that is expected to show more supply as the government seeks to fund its massive tax cut program and increased fiscal spending.

Germany, the euro zone’s benchmark bond issuer, meanwhile will sell 3 billion euros in five-year bonds later on.

Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe Editing by Andrew Heavens

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