Bonds rise in choppy trade as stocks fall

U.S. government debt prices rose in choppy trade on Thursday as U.S. stocks fell amid turmoil in China and oil price concerns.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note touched a low of 2.1190 percent, its lowest since October, and last traded at 2.1482 percent. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was lower at around 2.9251 percent. Yields, which move inversely to prices, on shorter-dated Treasury notes broadly fell.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 300 points in early trade, but cut half of those losses after Chinese regulators said they would suspend a circuit-breaker system that may have rattled traders. But the index resumed its fall after noon ET and touched fresh session lows.

In China, trading was suspended for the second time in a week, with a seven percent stock drop triggering a halt. Chinese markets were open for less than half an hour in total.

US 10-YR
US 30-YR

As well as concerns over China — which continues to spook markets — oil has also become a concern, with seemingly no market bottom.

Both Brent crude and U.S. crude prices fell more than 1 percent Thursday in choppy trade.

On the data front, U.S. jobless claims came in at 277,000, while firings by U.S.-based firms dropped to a 15-year low.

"Bottom line, the pace of firing's remains uneventful which is clearly a good thing. As I keep saying, with the supply of labor challenged notwithstanding 94 million people not working, employers are holding on to what they have and wage pressures seem inevitable in certain areas of the labor market," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group.

— CNBC's Patti Domm contributed to this report