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U.S. Government-Bond Yields Tick Lower After Mixed Economic Data

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09/24/2020 | 12:45pm EDT

By Sebastian Pellejero

U.S. government-bond yields edged lower Thursday after mixed data on jobs and housing signaled an erratic economic rebound.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note recently traded at 0.668%, according to Tradeweb, down from 0.676% at Wednesday's close. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

The 10-year yield initially declined after Labor Department data showed that Americans filing for jobless benefits last week held steady at around 870,000, higher than economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had anticipated and around four times the level before the coronavirus hit in the spring. While new jobless claims have eased from their peak, around 12.6 million Americans continue to receive unemployment benefits.

The yield pared that decline after data from the Commerce Department showed that purchases of new single-family houses rose for the fourth consecutive month. New home sales increased by 4.8% in August to more than 1 million, well above the 0.8% decline that economists had forecast.

The 10-year yield traded within a narrow range around 0.66% throughout the summer, weighed down by factors including investors' expectations for erratic economic recovery, years of near-zero interest rates and billions of dollars of bond purchases by the Federal Reserve.

"We've had a quick [economic] rebound, but the Treasury market seems to be stuck at these trading levels," said Larry Milstein, head of government and agency trading at R.W. Pressprich & Co.

Central bank officials have stepped up their calls for additional fiscal support to bolster the U.S. economy. In recent testimony on Capitol Hill, Chairman Jerome Powell said Congress and the White House had more power to hasten the recovery than the central bank.

Concerns about the prospects for additional government spending have weighed on markets recently, pushing investors toward the relative safety of government debt. The S&P 500 wavered in early trading Thursday, one day after the broad market gauge fell to its lowest level in more than two months.

Some analysts say the relationship between stocks and Treasury yields may be losing strength in part due to the central bank's intervention. The Fed has signaled it will do whatever is necessary to help the U.S. economy recover from the pandemic.

"The central bank isn't going to let yields rise substantially," said Mr. Milstein.

Write to Sebastian Pellejero at sebastian.pellejero@wsj.com


Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DJ INDUSTRIAL -2.36% 27656.77 Delayed Quote.-0.71%
NASDAQ 100 -1.63% 11495.527584 Delayed Quote.33.89%
NASDAQ COMP. -1.67% 11350.708072 Delayed Quote.28.71%
S&P 500 -1.95% 3397.03 Delayed Quote.7.26%
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