Jobs Report Sends Treasuries Lower

Light profit-taking hit bonds amid mixed signals about the economy

Treasuries responded warmly to the fear that more economic stimuli – in the form of rate cuts -- may be Required. But profit-taking Friday took some steam out of the nearly three-point week-long rally. U.S. employment data topped the list Friday and surprising strength in the headline data masked some weakness beneath the surface. January payrolls snapped back 268,000 from a downwardly revised 19,000 in December, which was likely influenced by inclement year-end weather and seasonal adjustments. In contrast, the unemployment rate jumped to 4.2% from 4.0% and manufacturing payrolls tumbled 65,000. Also, the average workweek lengthened 0.2 hours without any compensation from hourly earnings, which remained unchanged. Final University of Michigan sentiment nudged up to 94.7, while December factory orders showed some resilience, up 1.1%. On balance, this likely put an intermeeting Fed cut on the back burner -- a risk now pegged by the market at 10%. Accordingly, Fed fund futures took a knock and the yield curve flattened as the front-end lost some of its premium.

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