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Treasuries slip as jobs data loom

January 06, 2006 | Financial Times

US Treasuries failed to hold on to early gains on Thursday as investors looked ahead to Friday’s payrolls numbers.

After market gyrations earlier this week following the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting, Thursday’s moves were muted as investors waited for Friday’s data, which are regularly the biggest single market mover of any month.

Expectations were for about 200,000 jobs to have been created in December, but yesterday, new weekly jobless benefit claims fell to a five-year low, triggering talk that Friday’s number could be higher than forecast.

Bonds had risen in earlier trade as the damping effect of a strong service sector report was initially offset by investors’ current sensitivity to the housing market and a decline in pending home sales.

But by late trade in New York, yields on two-year notes were up 1.7 basis points at 4.321 per cent, while 10-year yields were up 0.6bp at 4.354 per cent.

The effect was a slight flattening of the yield curve to less than 4bp between the two. The two began a rare inversion over the holidays, but the move was unwound earlier this week as investors cut back trades designed to profit from the flattening.

Data pointing to economic strength led European and UK government bonds lower and pushed yields higher.

UK investors reconsidered expectations of an impending interest rate cut after the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply’s service sector index yesterday showed greater strength than expected in December.

In late trade, the two-year gilt was 2.2bp higher at 4.167 per cent while the benchmark 10-year gilt had recovered earlier price falls to be flat at 4.047 per cent.

In Europe, a similarly strong purchasing managers’ index report added to evidence in favour of further rate rises in the eurozone. However, yields slipped back from earlier peaks later in the afternoon.

Two-year European government bonds were 0.5bp higher at 2.743 per cent, while 10-year bunds were 0.3bp higher at 3.266 per cent.

Japanese government bond yields fell to a three-month low as prices rose for a second straight day following gains in the US Treasury market.

The yield on the 10-year JGB briefly fell to 1.42 per cent. Late in the day, the yield was down 1.5 basis point to 1.425 per cent.

Thursday marked the first full day of trade this year.

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