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Treasuries Finish Lower

Treasuries meandered in a mostly lateral direction Thursday, range trading ahead of the key payrolls data tomorrow. The curve held its steeper profile, but curve trade was light ahead of the data. In fact there were dubious rumors of an abysmal payrolls report tomorrow and of leaks on the Labor Department's website, but these scarcely moved prices as the market retrenched. Warnings by AMD and BoNY and residual jitters from the mistaken Bear Stearns sell order late Wednesday kept stocks mostly off-balance and in the red for much of the session. Data came in mainly firmer than expected, though jobless claims rose 5K to 417K. Factory orders were unchanged, compared to expectations of an 0.3% drop, while ISM services index popped a surprise gain to 53.9 from 50.9. ISM sparked a morning plunge to session lows, but the Dec bond found its footing again ahead of 113-00 and closed only 3/32 in the red at 113-14. The 2s-30s spread nosed up marginally to the +300 bp area. Another volley of Fedspeak sustained the pattern of equivocation over risks to the economy and traders kept their powder dry for tomorrow. Likewise, the dollar traded mostly sideways, gold eased and oil prices fell after Hurricane Lili proved less forceful than feared.

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