U.S. government debt yields inched higher on Thursday after economic data showed the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell while import prices rose more than expected.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was slightly up at 2.824 percent at 4:25 p.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was slightly lower at 3.057 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
U.S. import prices climbed more than anticipated in February as the largest increase in the cost of capital goods since 2008 offset declines in the price of petroleum. The hotter pricing data reinforces views that inflation could be starting to pick up this year.
The Department of Labor said Thursday that import prices increased 0.4 percent last month, while economists polled by Reuters had been expecting a 0.2 percent climb. Economists believe that prices may buoy this year thanks to a strong labor market, fiscal stimulus and an anemic dollar.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week, adding to a narrative of a tight labor market and sustained labor strength despite recent concerns about economic growth in the first quarter.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 226,000 for the week ended March 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The latest read comes after claims dropped to 210,000 during the week ended Feb. 24, the lowest level since December 1969.
Concerns over trade tensions continued to pleague market sentiment Thursday. Last week, President Donald Trump signed two declarations that would implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — both are expected to take effect in the coming weeks.
With Canada and Mexico exempt from the deal, fears over a potential trade war remain, as investors worry that countries around the world may retaliate with their own tariffs. A report emerged Tuesday stating that Trump could slap $60 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods.