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TREASURIES-U.S. bond prices fall as data offers hope on economy

Richard Leong
Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 | 11:43 AM ET

* Chicago PMI surges to 2-1/2-year high in October

* U.S. jobless claims fall in line with forecast

* Treasuries poised for second straight month of gains

NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries prices fell on Thursday as a stunningly strong report on Midwest business activity reduced some pessimism that fourth-quarter growth will be sub-par due to the recent federal government shutdown. Despite Thursday's decline, the bond market was poised for a second month of gains after a dismal summer. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago said its regional business index jumped to 65.9 in October from 55.7 last month. The reading handily beat the 55.0 forecast by analysts and was the highest level since March 2011. "This was just ridiculously strong," said Eric Green, global head of rates and currency research and strategy at TD Securities in New York. Still, Green and other analysts downplayed the importance of the data as many other indicators have signaled slower demand and hiring in the aftermath of the first partial federal government shutdown in 17 years. They stuck to the view that the Federal Reserve will keep its current $85 billion monthly pace of bond purchases into early 2014 to support the economy. The federal government's report on Thursday of a decline in new jobless claims in the latest week added to signs of resilience in the economy. New claims fell by 10,000 to 340,000, in line with a forecast for new claims of 339,000. "Things are not unraveling even though we might get another disappointing jobs report," Green said. The Labor Department will release its non-farm payrolls report for October at the end of next week. While the monthly jobs data is always closely watched, the report for October is being awaited with particular interest because investors are looking for signs of the impact of the 16-day government shutdown in the first part of the month. The bond market added to losses on Wednesday tied to a perceived less dovish view from the Fed after its two-day meeting. Analysts concluded the Fed left the door open to reducing bond-purchase stimulus in the coming months even though policy-makers acknowledged slower growth stemming from the government shutdown. The Fed bought $927 million worth of Treasuries due in November 2024 to May 2030, which was the latest purchase for its bond-buying program. Treasuries prices rose earlier along with German Bunds as disappointing euro zone data raised hopes that the European Central Bank might lower interest rates next week in an effort to support that region's struggling economy. "A lot of people think next week the ECB might cut rates or provide more liquidity," said David Keeble, global head of interest rates strategy at Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank in New York. The European Union's statistics office reported that euro zone inflation sagged to a near four-year low in October with unemployment lingering at record highs in September. "This plays into more action from the ECB," Keeble said. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were 9/32 lower in price with a yield of 2.561 percent, up 3 basis points from late on Wednesday. They lagged their German counterparts, with the 10-year yield premium rising to 85 basis points, the highest since mid-September, according to Reuters data. The 10-year yield has fallen 50 basis points from a two-year high of 3 percent. The yield touched a three-month low last week at 2.471 percent. Month-to-date, Treasuries have earned a total return of 0.49 percent following a 0.7 percent gain in September. But they were still down 1.53 percent so far this year, according to an index compiled by Barclays.