* Market on defense in case US payrolls unexpectedly strong
* Spanish bond auction results damp safe-haven demand
* Presidential debate performance also cited in market
(Updates comment, prices) By Ellen Freilich
NEW YORK, Oct 4 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries prices slipped on Thursday on profit-taking as traders played defense in case Friday's U.S. employment report shows better-than-expected September job growth.
"Some accounts believe the payrolls data will be better than the consensus forecast," said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Navigate Advisors LLC.
He cited a report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas that showed planned job cuts announced for September at a 15-year low.
"There is decent profit-taking on the Challenger survey, which is pointing to a better-than-consensus non-farm payroll figure tomorrow," he said.
Although yields on Spanish debt have recently risen, Spain found buyers for its debt at auction, which also damped demand for safe-haven assets like U.S. government debt.
"The Spanish bond auction was positive for risk assets, so that very much set the stage for Treasuries to sell off," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.
Before midday, the benchmark U.S. 10-year note was down 7/32 in price, its yield rising to 1.64 percent, in the middle of its recent range.
Comments by the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, on tackling the euro zone's debt crisis and his reiteration of the ECB's commitment to keep the euro intact also weighed, Krosby said.
Draghi said the ECB was ready to buy the bonds of euro zone member countries that ask for it, leaving the door open to a widely expected bailout of Spain.
"Those comments pushed the euro up vis a vis the dollar, equities moved higher, and Treasuries lost momentum," Krosby said.
To a small extent, a concession was also starting to be built in before next week's supply, said Justin Lederer, Treasury strategist at Cantor, Fitzgerald in New York.
The Treasury will auction three-year and 10-year notes and 30-year bonds next week.
"Flows feel pretty light, and we are back to the weekly lows in what has been a very, very tight trading range," Lederer said. "Most people are waiting, rightfully so, for tomorrow; clearly the non-farm payrolls data will be the most important data going forward, given the focus of Fed policy."
The Federal Reserve last month launched a new round of monetary stimulus, pledging to pump $40 billion into the U.S. economy each month until a sustained upturn is seen in the jobs market.
The Labor Department's monthly jobs report due out on Friday is expected to show growth in non-farm payrolls of 113,000 jobs, according to the consensus forecast of a Reuters poll.
Some traders also said the fall in Treasury prices on Friday reflected the perceived outperformance of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Thursday night's presidential debate.
"A Romney win implies better prospects for the economy and potentially less Fed intervention," said Thomas Simons, money market economist at Jefferies & Co.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's mid-September policy meeting are to released Thursday afternoon.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)
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((-------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT EDT (0952 EDT/1352 GMT) ---------------------
Change vs Current Nyk yield Three-month bills 0.095 (+0.005) 0.096 6-month bills 0.140 (+0.005) 0.142 Two-year note 100-01/32 ( unch ) 0.238 Five-year note 100-02/32 (-01/32) 0.612 10-year note 99-27/32 (-07/32) 1.640 30-year bond 97-31/32 (-21/32) 2.852 ))
Keywords: MARKETS USA BONDS/