Markets

Treasuries Pull Back Off Best Levels But Close Modestly Higher

(RTTNews) - Extending the upward trend seen over the past few sessions, treasuries moved modestly higher during trading on Thursday.

Bond prices gave back ground after an early move to the upside but still managed to close in positive territory. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by 1.2 basis points to 1.774 percent.

The ten-year yield closed lower for the fourth consecutive session, pulling back further after ending last Friday's trading at its highest closing level in over a month.

Treasuries benefited from uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates following the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday.

The Fed lowered interest by 25 basis points as expected but indicated officials are mixed about whether the central bank should cut rates again before the end of the year.

While seven participants expect another rate cut before the end of year, five expect rates to remain unchanged and another five expect rates to be raised back to 2 to 2-1/4 percent.

The central bank reiterated that it will "act as appropriate" to sustain the economic expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective.

CME Group's FedWatch Tool currently indicates a mixed outlook for rate cuts at the Fed's next meetings in October and December.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest rebound in initial jobless claims in the week ended September 14th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 208,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 206,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to climb to 213,000.

A separate report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed a modest slowdown in the pace of growth in regional manufacturing activity in the month of September.

The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current general activity fell to 12.0 in September from 16.8 in August, although a positive reading still indicates growth in regional manufacturing activity. The index had been expected to drop to 11.0.

Looking ahead, the survey's future general activity index moderated but continues to suggest growth over the next six months.

The National Association of Realtors also released a report showing an unexpected jump in existing home sales in the month of August.

NAR said existing home sales surged up by 1.3 percent to an annual rate of 5.49 million in August after spiking by 2.5 percent to a rate of 5.42 million in July.

The continued increase came as a surprise to economists, who had expected existing home sales to pull back by about 0.4 percent.

"Buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market."

Comments from several Fed officials may attract some attention on Friday amid an otherwise quiet day on the U.S. economic front.

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