Following the weakness seen in the previous session, treasuries showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Tuesday before closing roughly flat.
Bond prices spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 2.864 percent.
The choppy trading in the bond markets came as traders kept a close eye on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s semiannual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.
In his prepared remarks, Powell said the U.S. economy has grown at a solid pace so far this year and noted the latest data suggests economic growth in the second quarter was “considerably stronger” than in the first quarter.
The Fed chief also described recent inflation data as “encouraging,” with consumer price inflation a little above the central bank’s 2 percent target.
“Looking ahead, my colleagues on the FOMC and I expect that, with appropriate monetary policy, the job market will remain strong and inflation will stay near 2 percent over the next several years,” Powell said.
With the strong job market, inflation close to the objective, and the risks to the outlook roughly balanced, Powell reiterated that the Fed believes gradually raising interest rates is “the best way forward.”
“We are aware that, on the one hand, raising interest rates too slowly may lead to high inflation or financial market excesses,” Powell said. “On the other hand, if we raise rates too rapidly, the economy could weaken and inflation could run persistently below our objective.”
Powell said the Fed will continue to weigh a wide range of relevant information and stressed that the central bank’s policy decisions will depend on the economic outlook.
The Fed has raised rates twice this year to the current range of 1.75 to 2 percent and has signaled two more rate hikes before the end of the year.
On the U.S. economic front, the Fed released a report before the start of trading showing industrial production increased in line with economist estimates in June amid a rebound in auto production.
The report said industrial production climbed by 0.6 percent in June after falling by a downwardly revised 0.5 percent in May.
A separate report from the National Association of Home Builders showed homebuilder confidence has held steady in the month of July.
The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index remained unchanged in July after dipping to 68 in June. The unchanged reading matched economist estimates.
Powell’s second day of testimony on Capitol Hill may attract some attention on Wednesday along with the Commerce Department’s report on housing starts in June.
Late in the trading day, the Fed is due to release its Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in the twelve Fed districts.