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Treasury Bill Announcements: How to Interpret Them

Last updated 06/05/2024 by

Daniel Dikio

Edited by

Fact checked by

Treasury bills, commonly referred to as T-bills, are short-term government securities that mature in one year or less. They are considered one of the safest investments since they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. T-bill announcements play a crucial role in informing investors about upcoming auctions and the details of the T-bills being offered. These announcements provide valuable information that helps investors make informed decisions.

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What are Treasury bills?

Treasury bills are short-term debt instruments issued by the U.S. government. They are sold at a discount to their face value, and investors are paid the face value upon maturity. The difference between the purchase price and the face value represents the interest earned by the investor.

Characteristics of T-bills

  • Short-term maturity: T-bills have maturities ranging from a few days to one year. Common maturities include 4-week, 8-week, 13-week, 26-week, and 52-week.
  • Discounted pricing: T-bills are sold at a discount to their face value. For example, a $1,000 T-bill might be purchased for $980, and the investor will receive $1,000 at maturity.
  • Zero-coupon structure: T-bills do not pay periodic interest. Instead, the interest is the difference between the purchase price and the face value.
Comparison with other government securities:
  • Treasury notes (T-notes): These have maturities ranging from 2 to 10 years and pay interest every six months.
  • Treasury bonds (T-bonds): These have maturities of 20 or 30 years and also pay interest every six months.
  • Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS): These are similar to T-notes and T-bonds but are adjusted for inflation.

The process of issuing treasury bills

The U.S. Treasury issues T-bills through a competitive auction process. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how this process works:
  1. Announcement: The Treasury Department announces the details of upcoming T-bill auctions, including the offering amount, auction date, and maturity date.
  2. Auction: Auctions are held regularly, typically on a weekly basis. During the auction, investors submit bids indicating the amount they are willing to purchase and the yield they are willing to accept.
  3. Bidding: There are two types of bids: competitive and non-competitive.
    • Competitive bids: These specify the discount rate the bidder is willing to accept. If the bid is too high, it may not be accepted.
    • Non-competitive bids: These do not specify a discount rate and guarantee the bidder will receive the T-bills at the resulting auction yield.
  4. Allocation: After the auction, the Treasury allocates T-bills to the highest bidders in competitive bidding until the offering amount is met. Non-competitive bids are filled before competitive bids.
  5. Settlement: Investors pay for their T-bills, and the Treasury delivers the securities.

How to interpret a treasury bill announcement

A T-bill announcement contains several key components that investors need to understand:
  • Offering amount: The total value of T-bills being offered in the auction.
  • Auction date: The date on which the auction will take place.
  • Issue date: The date on which the T-bills will be issued and when payment is due.
  • Maturity date: The date on which the T-bills will mature and the face value will be paid to investors.
  • Discount rate: The interest rate at which the T-bills are sold, reflecting the difference between the purchase price and the face value.
  • Yield: The annualized return based on the discount rate and the time to maturity.

Why investors should consider treasury bills

Investors consider T-bills for several reasons:
  1. Low-risk investment: T-bills are considered one of the safest investments because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. This makes them an attractive option for risk-averse investors.
  2. Liquidity: T-bills are highly liquid, meaning they can be easily bought and sold in the secondary market. This provides flexibility for investors who may need to access their funds before the T-bills mature.
  3. Short-term investment benefits: T-bills have short maturities, making them suitable for investors looking for short-term investment opportunities. They are often used for cash management and as a safe place to park funds temporarily.
  4. Portfolio diversification: Including T-bills in an investment portfolio can provide diversification, helping to reduce overall risk. T-bills often perform well in times of economic uncertainty, providing a stable source of returns.
  5. Tax considerations: The interest earned on T-bills is exempt from state and local taxes, which can be a significant benefit for investors in high-tax states.

Recent trends and insights in treasury bill announcements

  1. Recent auction results: Analyzing recent auction results provides insights into the demand for T-bills and the prevailing yield environment. For instance, in times of economic uncertainty or market volatility, the demand for T-bills tends to increase, driving yields lower.
  2. Trends in demand and yields: Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable trend in the demand for T-bills, particularly during periods of market turbulence. Investors flock to T-bills as a safe haven, which can lead to increased competition and lower yields.
  3. Economic factors influencing T-bill rates: Several economic factors influence T-bill rates, including Federal Reserve policy, inflation expectations, and overall economic conditions. For example, when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, T-bill yields tend to increase as well.

How to invest in treasury bills

Investing in T-bills is relatively straightforward and can be done through various channels:
  1. TreasuryDirect: TreasuryDirect is an online platform provided by the U.S. Treasury, allowing individuals to purchase T-bills directly from the government. The process involves setting up an account, placing bids during auctions, and managing investments online.
  2. Brokerage accounts: Investors can also purchase T-bills through brokerage accounts. Many brokers offer access to T-bill auctions and the secondary market. This method provides convenience and often integrates with other investment accounts.
  3. Financial institutions: Some banks and financial institutions offer T-bill purchase services. This can be a convenient option for investors who prefer to manage all their finances through a single institution.
  4. Investment strategies: There are several strategies investors can use when incorporating T-bills into their portfolios:
    1. Laddering: This involves purchasing T-bills with different maturities to create a steady stream of income and reduce reinvestment risk.
    2. Barbelling: This strategy involves investing in both short-term T-bills and long-term bonds to balance risk and return.
    3. Rolling over: Investors can reinvest the proceeds from maturing T-bills into new T-bills, maintaining liquidity and earning interest.

Risks and considerations

While T-bills are considered low-risk investments, there are still some risks and considerations to keep in mind:
  1. Interest rate risk: When interest rates rise, the value of existing T-bills in the secondary market may decrease. However, this risk is minimal for T-bills due to their short maturities.
  2. Reinvestment risk: For short-term T-bills, there is a risk that the proceeds from maturing T-bills will need to be reinvested at lower yields if interest rates decline.
  3. Inflation risk: T-bills do not provide protection against inflation. If inflation rises significantly, the real return on T-bills may be negative, meaning the purchasing power of the investment declines over time.

Case study: Successful T-bill investment

Let’s consider a hypothetical case study of an investor using T-bills effectively:

Investor profile

  • Name: Sarah
  • Age: 45
  • Investment goal: Preserve capital and earn a modest return
  • Risk tolerance: Low

Investment strategy

Sarah decides to allocate a portion of her portfolio to T-bills to preserve capital and maintain liquidity. She uses a laddering strategy, purchasing T-bills with 4-week, 8-week, and 13-week maturities. This approach ensures she has a steady stream of maturities, allowing her to reinvest or access funds as needed.


Over the course of a year, Sarah benefits from the stability and predictability of T-bills. During a period of market volatility, her T-bill investments provide a safe haven, and the interest earned helps offset some of the losses in her equity investments. By reinvesting the proceeds from maturing T-bills, she maintains liquidity and continues to earn a modest return.

Lessons learned

Sarah’s experience highlights the importance of incorporating low-risk investments like T-bills into a diversified portfolio. By using a laddering strategy, Sarah is able to manage her liquidity needs while minimizing risk. This case study underscores how T-bills can serve as a stable foundation within a broader investment strategy, particularly for investors seeking capital preservation and low volatility.


What is the minimum investment for treasury bills?

The minimum purchase amount for Treasury bills is $100. This low entry point makes T-bills accessible to a wide range of investors.

How are T-bill yields calculated?

T-bill yields are calculated based on the difference between the purchase price and the face value, annualized to reflect a one-year return. The formula used is:
Yield = (Face Value – Purchase PricePurchase Price) (365Days to Maturity)

Can I sell my T-bills before maturity?

Yes, T-bills can be sold before maturity in the secondary market. However, the price you receive will depend on prevailing market conditions and interest rates at the time of sale.

Are T-bills suitable for retirement accounts?

Yes, T-bills can be included in retirement accounts such as IRAs. Their safety and liquidity make them a good choice for preserving capital and managing risk within a retirement portfolio.

How often are T-bill auctions held?

T-bill auctions are typically held weekly. Specific auction dates and details are announced in advance by the U.S. Treasury.

Key takeaways

  • T-bills are backed by the U.S. government, making them one of the safest investment options available.
  • T-bills can be easily bought and sold, providing flexibility for investors.
  • The short maturities of T-bills make them suitable for managing short-term investment needs and cash flow.
  • Including T-bills in a portfolio can help reduce overall risk and provide stability during market volatility.
  • Interest on T-bills is exempt from state and local taxes, which can be advantageous for investors in high-tax regions.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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