October 16, 2019 / 6:18 PM / a month ago

TREASURIES-Yields fall on disappointing retail sales data

(Updates Brexit negotiations, adds comments by Fed’s Evans, updates prices)

* Retail sales fall for first time in seven months

* Conflicting Brexit reports cause choppy trading

By Karen Brettell

NEW YORK, Oct 16 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury yields fell on Wednesday after data showed that U.S. retail sales fell for the first time in seven months in September, adding to concerns that the U.S. economy is slowing.

The Commerce Department said retail sales dropped 0.3% last month, the first drop since February, as households cut spending on motor vehicles, building materials, hobbies and online purchases.

“The retail sales figures were pretty disappointing across the board,” said Benjamin Jeffery, a rates strategist at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

The Federal Reserve is expected to cut rates when it meets on Oct. 29-30, though Fed policymakers are divided on whether further cuts are needed.

A low interest rate environment sets limits on what the Federal Reserve can accomplish with monetary policy, making it important for the Fed to “proactively” cut rates when risks appear to provide a buffer for the economy, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said Wednesday.

The U.S. economy expanded at a slight to modest pace in September and early October but many firms are more downbeat about the months ahead, a Federal Reserve report said on Wednesday.

Benchmark 10-year yields fell to 1.748%, after rising as high as 1.778% on Tuesday, the highest since Sept. 20.

The weak data offset hopes that Britain would soon reach a deal with the European Union to avoid a disorderly Brexit.

British and EU officials were on the verge of a last-minute Brexit deal on Wednesday but Prime Minister Boris Johnson still has work to do at home to ensure parliament approves the plan.

Investors are also focused on the likelihood that the United States and China will reach a deal to end their trade war, which has been blamed for harming global growth.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed four pieces of legislation taking a hard line on China, a move that is seen as inflaming tensions between the two counties.

Three related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and one commended Canada in its dispute over the extradition of a Chinese telecom executive.

China’s foreign ministry accused the U.S. lawmakers of “sinister intentions” to undermine Hong Kong’s stability and warned that bilateral relations would be damaged should the measures become law. (Editing by David Gregorio and Nick Zieminski) )

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