All you need to know about the upcoming 20-year US Treasury auction. All you need to know about the upcoming 20-year US Treasury auction. All you need to know about the upcoming 20-year US Treasury auction.

All you need to know about the upcoming 20-year US Treasury auction.

Althea Spinozzi

Head of Fixed Income Strategy


  • The auction is likely to benefit from the second highest auction yield on record, a below average auction size and a reasonable pick up over 30-year US Treasury.
  • Recent bearish bond sentiment, coupled with the illiquidity inherent in this maturity, and an inverted yield curve - where 2-year US Treasuries yield close to 5% - collectively present challenges to demand.
  • A stop-through is probable should bonds continue to sell off tomorrow.
  • Regardless of the auction results, 20-year yields are likely to continue to soar toward 5%. To reverse this bullish trend a close below 4.42% is required.

As bond markets experience a widespread sell-off across various tenors, the US Treasury is gearing up to auction $13 billion worth of the infamous 20-year bonds (US912810TZ12) on Wednesday.

The 20-year maturity stands out due to its notorious illiquidity within the US yield curve. Reintroduced in May 2020 during the Covid pandemic to bolster the US Treasury's debt-raising efforts, it had been discontinued in 1986. This explains why it offers a substantial yield pick up over 30-year bonds, approximately 10 basis points higher.

Let's delve into the advantages and drawbacks of the upcoming 20-year US Treasury auction to ascertain whether weak bidding metrics might accelerate the uptick in yields.

Interesting takeaways from previous US Treasury auctions:

  • Tails in the 20-year tenor are less common compared to 10- and 30-year auctions. Since May 2020, the 20-year high-yield tailed when-issued only 21 times over 47 months. In contrast, the 30- and 10-year auctions tailed 25 and 28 times respectively. This discrepancy is likely because the auction size for the 20-year tenor has not been increased to record-high levels, as seen with the 10-year US Treasury auctions.
  • Last October, the 20-year bond auction stopped through when-issued as US Treasury yields were rising broadly. A similar scenario might unfold again, as investors seek to lock in one of the highest yields seen in over fifteen years.

Yield levels to watch out for:

US 20-year Treasury yields are currently trading around the 0.618 retracement at 4.88. The trend is bullish supported by RSI indicating 20-year yields are likely to move higher towards the 0.786 retracement and resistance area at around 5.05-5.20. To reverse this bullish trend a close below 4.42 is required. (Courtesy of Kim Cramer Larsson)

Source: Bloomberg.

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