TREASURIES-Prices gain on safe-haven support, jobs data eyed
* U.S. estimates Q3 GDP growth at 2 percent
* Fed buying Treasuries as part of ``Operation Twist''
NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries prices advanced on Friday as disappointing corporate earnings fueled safe-haven buying, with investors looking ahead to jobs data next week that could affect the country's neck-and-neck presidential race. The U.S. government will release October's nonfarm payrolls report next Friday. Analysts said the data could not only shed light on the nascent labor market recovery but also influence an increasingly tight election between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama. A Romney victory could be seen as good for stocks because of potential tax cuts, ING economists said, with an Obama win benefiting bonds because of the possibility of ongoing Federal Reserve support for the economy and Treasuries. ``Another decent labor report could give (Obama) more support,'' the ING economists wrote to clients. The unemployment rate could nonetheless rise, even if payrolls show ``reasonable growth of 140,000,'' they added. ``Consequently, we remain of the view that the election will go to the wire,'' they wrote. Investors will also try to gauge whether the U.S. economy can extend the pace of third-quarter growth into the end of this year and the start of the next. The Commerce Department on Fri day reported a 2 percent annual growth rate for the quarter.
However, a sizable portion of the third-quarter expansion came from government spending, which was seen as unsustainable. ``In spite of the pleasant surprise on the top-line GDP number, the general tone of this report was not particularly encouraging as the unsustainable bounce in government spending in Q3 will leave a big hole that is unlikely to be filled in Q4,'' said Millan Mulraine, a senior economist at TD Securities in New York. Uncertainty over the impact of the so-called ``fiscal cliff'' of tax increases and government spending cuts set to kick in at the beginning of next year also underpinned Treasuries purchases. ``With this uncertainty continuing to impair investment, consumption and hiring decisions, U.S. economic performance is likely to remain very weak over the near term,'' Mulraine said. Treasuries gained in price overnight after results from Apple and Amazon undershot expectations. In Europe, Renault, Saint Gobain, Gucci and Publicis weighed in with gloomy earnings and outlooks. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes on Friday traded 19/32 higher in price to yield 1.747 percent, down from 1.81 percent late on Th ursday and just below the 200-day moving average. Benchmark yields were little changed on the week after finishing late last Friday at 1.77 percent. Thirty-year Treasury bonds were 1-4/32 higher in price to yield 2.904 percent, down from 2.96 percent late Thursday. One significant purchaser of Treasuries on Friday was the Federal Reserve, which was buying $1.5 billion to $2 billion of notes maturing November 2022 through February 2031 as part of its ``Operation Twist'' economic stimulus program.