TREASURIES-Prices falter on unexpectedly low U.S. jobless claims

Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:19pm EDT

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* U.S. jobless claims fall to lowest since Feb. 2006

* U.S. new home sales drop in June

* Geopolitics still a big factor

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury debt prices fell on Thursday after data showed jobless claims in the world's largest economy dropped to their lowest in more than eight years, although losses may be limited by safe-haven buying given tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Yields, which move inversely to prices, on benchmark U.S. 10-year notes and 30-year bonds rose to one-week highs after the data, with the 10-year climbing above a pivotal 2.50 percent.

"The lower-than-expected U.S. jobless claims has made people focus on the improving labor market and that has weighed on the Treasury market," said Ian Lyngen, senior government bond strategist, at CRT Capital in Stamford, Connecticut.

Data showed on initial jobless claims declined 19,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 284,000 for the week ended July 19. That was the lowest since February 2006.

In afternoon trading, 10-year U.S. Treasuries were down 13/32 in price to yield 2.510 percent. The yield hit a peak of 2.518 percent, the highest since July 18.

The U.S. 30-year Treasury bond, meanwhile, was down 25/32 in price, pushing the yield up to 3.298 percent, after peaking at 3.308 percent, a one-week high. U.S. 30-year bond yields have recovered from Monday's levels, when they fell to their lowest since June 2013.

Yields, however, fell from highs after data showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell sharply in June, with the prior month's data revised to show less robust growth. Sales dropped 8.1 percent, the largest decline since July 2013, to an annual rate of 406,000 units.

"The new home sales have reminded us that the economic recovery is a bit uneven," said Robert Tipp, chief investment strategist at Prudential Fixed income in Newark, New Jersey.

"That uneven recovery is the likely thing that will keep the Fed cautious in terms of finishing its taper and moving on to hike rates."

The current unrest in Ukraine and Gaza also remained a constant threat to yields.

Gazan authorities said Israeli forces shelled a shelter at a U.N.-run school on Thursday, killing at least 15 people as the Palestinian death toll in the conflict climbed over 750 and attempts at a truce remained elusive.

On the Ukraine conflict, the United States said Russia was firing artillery across the border into Ukraine to target Ukrainian military positions.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury's $15 billion 10-year TIPS auctions saw mixed results. The issue stopped through at 0.249 percent, after having edged up to 0.265 percent into the bid deadline.

There were $37.4 billion in bids for a 2.49 cover, versus 2.31 in January and 2.91 in May. Indirect bidders, consisting of major central banks, took 53.1 percent against January's 51.8 percent. (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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