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Treasuries Gain on Jobs Data, Stock Weakness

It was worth the wait to "payrolls Friday" for Treasuries, which outpaced stocks again on news that nonfarm payrolls plunged 86,000 in March from an upwardly revised +140,000 in February. The clincher for the sharp curve steepening to 5-year wides (+141 basis points) was the deepest decline in payrolls since November 1991. Unemployment backed up to 4.3% from 4.2%, while hourly earnings remained firm at 0.4%.

Salt was thrown in the wounds of equities, with financials in particular sensitive to the bankruptcy declaration of California utility PG&E. That legal move will keep the state, creditors and other small utilities at arms length, exacerbating the crisis in the state and sharing the pain with banks which had extended credit.

Accordingly, the Dow sank 1.2% and the Nasdaq suffered more earnings angst, down 3.5%. The S&P 500 tripped 2%, with a $1.2 trillion shrunken tax package on the hill also a disappointment and Motorola countering rumors of a liquidity crisis.

The cash and June bonds rallied over a point each, 2-year yields approached 4.0% and dealers reported forced curve buying (FITs, NOBs) and short-covering.

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