US bond yields fell to record lows Tuesday as traders looked for safe havens amid a steep sell-off in global stocks driven by concerns about the US and eurozone economies.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves in the opposite direction from its price, stood at 1.979 percent at 1615 GMT, after earlier plunging as low as 1.929 percent.
Fears on both sides of the Atlantic have caused investors to dump risky stocks and flee to US Treasuries, a traditional safe-haven asset, lifting the price and lowering the yield of the bonds.In addition to the problems in the eurozone, investors were worried that the United States might be slipping into a double-dip recession, particularly after Friday's bleak report on employment revealed the US economy added no jobs in August.
Late on Friday, before US markets closed for a three-day holiday weekend, the benchmark 10-year yield was 1.996 percent.In August, the 10-year yield fell below the two percent level for the first time ever, after having hovered above three percent as recently as July.
The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond fell to 3.246 percent on Tuesday, its lowest level since January 2009, when the global financial crisis was spooking investors.
Stocks plunged on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 1.7 percent in midday trade, amid fears that Europe's efforts to resolve its sovereign debt crises were faltering.Doubts about Greece's commitment to deficit-reduction goals, protests in Italy and Spain against budget cuts, and questions about Germany's readiness to agree to a costly bailout plan all weighed on the markets.
Treasury prices were also lifted by expectations that the US Federal Reserve could move to buy long-term bonds in a bid to lower interest rates, said Mary Ann Hurley, vice president of fixed income at DA Davidson.Tuesday's price spike showed that Standard & Poor's downgrade of the US long-term debt rating in early August has done nothing to dampen the appeal of US government bonds as a safe-haven asset, she added.
"The bottom line is that the US is not Greece. It is going to pay its bills," Hurley said.
"And the US dollar still remains the reserve currency, and flight to safety people are going to flock to the US, as opposed to the other countries in the world."