Weak U.S. Treasury auctions raise concerns over market’s ability to absorb growing government debt.

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America’s Bonds Are Getting Harder to Sell.

A series of weak auctions for U.S. Treasurys are stoking investors’ concerns that markets will struggle to absorb an incoming rush of government debt.

A selloff sparked by a hotter-than-expected inflation report intensified this past week after lackluster demand for a $39 billion sale of 10-year Treasurys. Investors also showed tepid interest in auctions for three-year and 30-year Treasurys.

Behind their caution lies a growing conviction that inflation isn’t fully tamed and that the Federal Reserve will leave interest rates at multidecade highs for months, if not years, to come. The 10-year yield—the benchmark for borrowing rates on everything from mortgages to corporate loans—finished the week around 4.5%, near its highest levels since touching 5% in October.

At the same time, the government is poised to sell another $386 billion or so of bonds in May—an onslaught that Wall Street expects to continue no matter who wins November’s presidential election. While few fear a failed auction—an unlikely scenario that analysts said could potentially trigger prolonged turmoil—some worry that a glut of Treasurys will rattle other parts of the markets, raise the cost of government borrowing and hurt the economy.

“There’s been a big shift in the market narrative. The CPI [consumer-price index] report changed everybody’s view of where Fed policy is headed,” said James St. Aubin, chief investment officer at Sierra Mutual Funds.

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