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Bonds sell off after strong US Feb. jobs report

U.S. Treasury yields spiked higher on Friday after data showed U.S. nonfarm payrolls beat expectations and the jobless rate fell to a more than 6-1/2 year low in February, bolstering the view that the Federal Reserve will consider hiking rates in June.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 295,000 last month after an increase of 239,000 in January, the Labor Department said. The decline in the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent in January took it to its lowest level since May 2008.

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Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 240,000 increase in payrolls after a previously reported 257,000 rise in January. They had expected the jobless rate to fall 0.1 percentage point to 5.6 percent.

"This is a report that emboldens the Fed to stay on track with a rate hike somewhere in mid-2015," said Jeff MacDonald, director of fixed income strategy at New York-based Fiduciary Trust Co International.

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U.S. Treasurys yields ranging between two and 30 years in maturity hit their highest levels in more than two months after the report.

Analysts said that while the report increased the likelihood that the Fed would remove the word "patient" in describing its approach to rate hikes at its March 17-18 policy meeting and begin raising them from rock-bottom levels in June, softer average hourly earnings in February prevented a steeper rise in yields.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.1 percent in February, down from a 0.5 percent increase in January and below economists' expectations for a 0.2 percent gain, according to a Reuters poll.

"We would have sold off much harder if average hourly earnings had increased more," said Don Ellenberger, senior portfolio manager at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh. He was referring to the sell-off in Treasurys prices, which move inversely to yields.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields were at 2.24 percent, from a yield of 2.11 percent late Thursday. That yield was just below its session high of 2.22 percent, which was its highest since Dec. 29.

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U.S. 30-year Treasury bond yields were last at 2.85 percent, from a yield of 2.71 percent late Thursday.