After moving to the upside early in the session, treasuries gave back ground over the course of the trading day on Thursday.
Bond prices pulled back well off their best levels of the day but managed to close modestly higher. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by 1.3 basis points to 2.880 percent after hitting a low of 2.835 percent.
The relatively lackluster close by treasuries came following the release of a mixed batch of U.S. economic data.
The Labor Department released a report unexpectedly showing a modest pullback in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended August 13th.
The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 250,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 252,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 265,000 from the 262,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia also released a report showing regional manufacturing activity unexpectedly returned to growth in the month of August.
The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current activity jumped to a positive 6.2 in August from a negative 12.3 in July, with a positive reading indicating growth. Economists had expected the index to rebound to a negative 5.0.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing another significant decrease in existing home sales in the month of July.
NAR said existing home sales plunged by 5.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.81 million in July after tumbling by 5.5 percent to a revised rate of 5.11 million in June.
Economists had expected existing home sales to slump by 4.5 percent to a rate of 4.89 million from the 5.12 million originally reported for the previous month.
Existing home sales declined for the sixth consecutive month, falling to their lowest annual rate since May 2020.
A separate report released by the Conference Board showed a continued decrease by its reading on leading U.S. economic indicators in the month of July.
The Conference Board said its leading economic index fell by 0.4 percent in July following a revised 0.7 percent decrease in June.
Economists had expected the index to decline by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.8 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
“The US LEI declined for a fifth consecutive month in July, suggesting recession risks are rising in the near term,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics, The Conference Board.
A lack of major U.S. economic data may lead to another lackluster session on Friday, as traders look ahead to next week’s Jackson Hole economic symposium.
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