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Treasurys boosted by fears about China, Europe

U.S. government debt prices rose on Thursday, as investors sought the safety of government bonds amid concerns about global growth following weak manufacturing data from China and Europe.

Data showing increased underlying U.S. inflation pressures last month and lower initial weekly jobless claims helped yields edge higher. But pessimistic data out of Europe and China outweighed the impact of sturdy U.S. data.

"This one snapshot of inflation doesn't undo all the potential headwinds in China, Japan, and Europe and certainly we'll wait and see if this becomes a trend rather than the exception," said Tyler Tucci, Treasury strategist, at RBS Securities in Stamford, Connecticut.

"It's a step in the right direction, but a step is all it is."

In afternoon trading, the 10-year Treasury note was up 7/32 in price to yield 2.34 percent from 2.36 percent late Wednesday. Five-year notes were up 3/32, yielding 1.63 percent.

U.S. 30-year Treasury bonds were up 17/32 in price, with a yield of 3.05 percent, from 3.07 percent at the close on Wednesday.

Read MoreConsumer inflation: Wild card for markets?

Symbol
Yield
 
Change
%Change
US 3-MO
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US 1-YR
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US 2-YR
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US 5-YR
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US 10-YR
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US 30-YR
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Benchmark 10-year note and 30-year bond yields rose from the day's lows after data showed the core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2 percent, the largest increase in five months.

A separate report showed first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 last week, staying below the 300,000 threshold for a 10th straight week.

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"We have an improving labor market and a very subdued inflation situation," said Kim Rupert, director of fixed income at Action Economics in San Francisco.

"And it seems that even though the jobless numbers and some of the other economic data are pointing to the Fed hiking rates sooner rather than later, the inflation data remain too soft for them to hike rates."

Global markets were roiled earlier on reports showing weaker-than-expected manufacturing output in the euro zone and China's factory output contracting for the first time in six months.