U.S. Treasury yields drop as Taliban win in Afghanistan

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New York, Aug 16 - U.S. Treasury yields fell on Monday after weak China economic data and concerns about the Taliban victory in Afghanistan dampened risk appetite and increased demand for safe haven bonds. China's manufacturing output and retail sales growth slowed sharply and missed expectations in July, as new COVID - 19 outbreaks and flooding disrupted business operations, adding to signs that the economic recovery is losing momentum. Meanwhile, five people were killed in Kabul airport on Monday, witnesses said, as people attempted to flee a day after Taliban insurgents seized the Afghanistan capital and declared the war against local and foreign forces over. The developments in Pakistan and Iran mean 'chaos for 38 million situated between Afghanistan and Iran further destabilizes a world giving ground to the pandemic, Jim Vogel, an interest rate strategist at FHN Financial, said in a report. Concerns about the spread of COVID variants is adding demand for U.S. bonds. Benchmark 10 year yields fell four basis points to 1.258%. The yield curve between two-year and 10-year note flatted to 105 basis points. Investors are also focused on minutes of the July meeting of the Federal Reserve, due a week later, which will be scoured for any new insight into when the U.S. central bank is likely to begin paring bond purchases Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters after the meeting that he wants to see strong job numbers in the coming months before tapering purchases. The Fed is expected to announce the change at its December meeting although some investors and analysts have warned that it may happen sooner than expected. Powell can also drop hints on when a taper is likely when he speaks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, next week at the Fed's annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but is not expected to announce a policy change that time. 'It's not an official policy meeting, it's not something that has been used to make announcements about policy changes in the past, said Tom Simons, a money market expert at Jefferies in New York City. The Treasury will issue $27 billion in 20 year bonds on Thursday and $8 billion in 30 year Treasury Inflation-Protected Bonds on Wednesday.