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Markets & Finance

Treasuries Finish Mixed

Data played havoc with price action on Friday, the last full trading day of 2001.

The first wave of releases were relatively benign, though both durable goods orders (-4.8%) and initial claims (392,000) both came in better than expected. This helped prices to roll over from overnight highs, but it was the subsequent salvo of data that upset the apple cart.

November new (+6.4%) and existing (+0.6%) home sales benefitted from mild weather, record low mortgage rates and the "nesting" trend after September 11. The real piledriver, however, was a surge in consumer confidence in December to 93.7 from 84.9, while Chicago-PMI was tame at 41.4%.

The March bond tumbled nearly a point before book squaring kicked in at par for the second straight session, finishing off 15/32 at 100-17. The curve held its steeper profile, with 2s/30s edging higher to +239 basis points.

Stocks initially rallied through some technical milestones on the bullish economic news, but subsided into year-end. Oil prices eased after the OPEC production cut was finalized and the dollar finished softly. Fed funds futures sat at about 24% risk of a 25 basis point rate cut by Fed policymakers on Jan. 30.

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