Treasury yields mixed as recession signal nears inversion

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U.S. government debt yields were mixed Wednesday morning, as global trade developments offered much-needed relief for markets gripped by political and economic uncertainty.

U.S. Markets Overview: Treasurys chart

At around 03:15 a.m. ET, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, was lower at around 1.6642%, just above that on the 2-year security at 1.6298%. Meanwhile, the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was higher at around 2.1381%.

It comes after the White House delayed tariffs on some Chinese imports in the previous session, easing trade concerns between the world’s two largest economies.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the move was designed to avoid any potential impact on holiday shopping ahead of Christmas season. He added China would very much like to make a trade deal.

Recession signal in focus

The traditionally watched 2-year and 10-year Treasury curve was approximately 2 basis points away from inversion on Wednesday, a phenomenon heralded by many as a recession indicator. Market participants are now demanding higher interest rates on short-term debt than they are longer term debt, an event known as an “inverted yield curve.”

On Tuesday, the spread between the two yields narrowed to just 1 basis point. A basis point is one hundredth of one percent.

Investors often give the spread between the 10-year and the 2-year special attention because inversions of that part of the curve have preceded every recession over the past 50 years, albeit it often took months even years before an economic downturn hit.

On the data front, import prices for July will be released at around 8:30 a.m. ET.

There are no major Treasury auctions scheduled on Wednesday.

— CNBC’s Thomas Franck contributed to this report.

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