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Economy
Thursday, 21-September-2006
(Reuters) - NEW YORK - US Treasury debt prices were little changed on Thursday, keeping near recent peaks after a weekly labour market report did little to change the market’s view that interest rates would stay on hold for now.


Treasuries prices held steady after jobs data showed first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose modestly in the most recent week.

“There was not much reaction to jobless claims. The numbers were ahead of expectations, but the trend is still for a relatively low number of claims,” said Scott Brown, chief economist with Raymond James & Associates, St. Petersburg, Florida.

US jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 318,000 in the week ended Sept. 16, after an upwardly revised 311,000 in the prior week. Economists surveyed by Reuters were expecting claims to inch up to 310,000 from the original reading of 308,000 in the Sept. 9 week.

Benchmark 10-year notes traded 1/32 higher in price on the day to yield 4.73 percent, compared with 4.74 percent late on Wednesday. Bond yields and prices move inversely. On Wednesday the 10-year yield fell to 4.713 percent, its lowest since late March.

Two-year notes were unchanged on the day, yielding 4.835 percent while five-year notes were also flat, yielding 4.698 percent.

The Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to leave its overnight federal funds rate unchanged for the second straight meeting at 5.25 percent came as little surprise, though some bond investors had bet it would soften its tone on inflation.

The Fed had lifted rates 17 times in the two years to June.

Dealers were still considering the US central bank’s emphasis in its policy statement on the rate of price growth as they awaited US leading indicators at 10:00 a.m. and the Philadelphia Fed’s survey of factory activity in the US Mid-Atlantic region at noon.

“The Fed’s decision to keep rates on hold at 5.25 percent came as little surprise to the market and the subtle changes to the statement served to shift thinking to a longer pause rather than a soon-to-be-easing Fed....” David Ader, US government bond strategist at RBS Greenwich Capital, said in a morning note to clients.

For the Philadelphia Fed survey, economists polled by Reuters forecast a median reading of 14.8 for September, down from 18.5 in August.

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