* U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fall to 5-year low
* Blue-chip stock gains curb safe-haven demand for bonds
* U.S. debt cap extension reduces investor anxiety
* Strong $15 bln 10-year TIPS sale pare bond losses
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, Jan 24 U.S. Treasury debt prices
slipped on Thursday after data showed first-time filings for
weekly jobless benefits fell to a five-year low, raising hopes
of an improving U.S. labor market.
Higher U.S. blue-chip stock prices, together with a
temporary extension of the federal debt ceiling, also undermined
safe-haven bets on government debt, as the benchmark S&P 500
index briefly climbed above 1,500 for the first time
since late 2007.
Thursday's moderate move in the Treasuries market kept
benchmark yields within their 13 basis-point trading range of
nearly two weeks.
Analysts anticipated that range will likely remain intact
heading into next week's $99 billion coupon supply and the
Federal Reserve's first policy meeting of 2013.
The unexpected drop in jobless claims "caught some people by
surprise and exposed some longs," said Tom Roth, executive
director of U.S. government bond trading at Mitsubishi UFJ
Securities USA Inc in New York.
"The market is in a very tight range and will continue to do
so," Roth added.
The U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday that initial
claims for unemployment benefits fell to 330,000 last week, the
lowest level since January 2008. Analysts polled by Reuters had
expected claims to rise to 355,000.
A surprisingly encouraging report on U.S. manufacturing from
data firm Markit helped support the notion the U.S. economy has
managed to survive the year-end slowdown linked to fears of the
"fiscal cliff" - a series of automatic federal tax hikes and
spending cuts worth $600 billion to phase in early this year if
a temporary fix were not in place, analysts said.
Markit's U.S. manufacturing index suggested the sector
expanded at its fastest pace since March 2011.
However, the Kansas City Federal Reserve said on Thursday
its factory index on its Midwest district was stuck in negative
territory in January. The weak reading added to the recent
string of disappointing regional business data from the New
York, Philadelphia and Richmond Feds.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were 5/32 lower
in price to yield 1.845 percent, up 1.7 basis points from late
The 30-year bond fell 13/32 to yield 3.043
percent, up 2.1 basis points from late Wednesday.
"The market seems to be content without major economic data
this week and the debt ceiling debate pushed off," said Mike
Lorizio, head of Treasuries trading at Manulife Asset Management
On Thursday, the government enacted a Republican-backed plan
to extend the U.S. Treasury's borrowing authority that will
allow it to borrow money through mid-May, temporarily easing
But after the plan's approval on Wednesday in the House of
Representatives, Speaker John Boehner said Republicans would
take the next opportunity -- automatic spending cuts set for
March 1 -- to demand reforms from President Barack Obama.
Even though risk of another possible political standoff in
Washington looms, U.S. blue-chip stocks clung to their gains,
although technology shares fell, led by a steep 12 percent drop
in Apple's share price.
STRONG TIPS AUCTION
Bond prices bounced off their session lows after strong
demand at a $15 billion auction of a new 10-year Treasury
Inflation Protected Security issue.
The ratio of bids to the amount of new TIPS offered was
2.71, the strongest since the 10-year TIPS sale in May 2012.
Indirect bidders, including large money managers and foreign
central banks, accounted for 53.3 percent of the purchases, the
highest level since November 2010, according to Treasury data.
U.S. yields fell early in the session in tandem with those of
triple-A rated German Bunds after data showed French business
activity shrank in January to the lowest level since March 2009.
The Federal Reserve's latest bond purchase, part of its
quantitative easing policy aimed to support the economic
recovery, also stemmed the losses in Treasuries prices.
The U.S. central bank on Thursday bought $3.36 billion of
U.S. government debt maturing February 2020 through November
2022. It was set to buy $3.00 billion to $3.75 billion in
Treasuries due October 2018 to December 2019.