Bond yields little changed ahead of Dec inflation readings

A cashier checks Indian rupee notes inside a room at a fuel station in Ahmedabad

By Dharamraj Dhutia

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian government bond yields were little changed on Thursday, ahead of inflation readings from India and the United States that are expected to provide cues on the central banks' rate-hike trajectory.

The benchmark 10-year yield was at 7.2921%, as of 10:00 a.m. IST, after ending at 7.2913% on Wednesday.

The yield had dropped eight basis points in the previous three sessions, tracking a similar move in U.S. yields, on bets that inflation in the world's largest economy is cooling.

"Market is adequately positioned for the inflation data, and we should not see the 7.30% level being broken in a major way," a trader with a state-run bank said.

The U.S. inflation reading is expected to stand at 6.5%, down from 7.1% in November, and comes after weak economic data bolstered bets of a slowdown in rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

The 10-year U.S. yield was at 3.52%, down over 30 basis points in January.

The Fed raised interest rates by 425 bps in 2022 and is set to hike them further this year. Futures are pricing in the Fed's target rate to be 4.947% in June, with a 25 basis points hike at its Jan. 31-Feb. 1 policy meeting.

India's retail inflation for December is likely to remain steady at 5.90%, after easing to 5.88% in November, a Reuters poll of economists showed. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) aims to maintain inflation within the 2%-6% band.

The RBI raised the repo rate by 225 basis points in 2022 to 6.25% and is set to hike again in February, which could be followed by a prolonged pause.

Investors will also focus on the federal budget due on Feb. 1, with the government's fiscal consolidation plan and gross borrowing figures for the next financial year being major triggers for the market.

Market participants also await the debt auction due on Friday, where the government will aim to raise 300 billion rupees ($3.67 billion).

($1 = 81.6650 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Dharamraj Dhutia; Editing by Eileen Soreng)