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Treasuries Move To The Upside Following Spike In Jobless Claims

Following the release of a report showing a spike in first-time jobless claims, treasuries moved to the upside during trading on Thursday.

Bond prices fluctuated after an initial jump but managed to remain firmly positive. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 4.7 basis points to 0.811 percent.

The strength among treasuries came after the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits soared last week, as large swaths of the U.S. economy were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims skyrocketed to 3,283,000 in the week ended March 21st, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level of 282,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to spike to about 1.5 million from the 281,000 originally reported for the previous week.

While the increase in unemployment claims is staggering, economists noted the data may still underestimate the number of new claims due to constraints on the capacity of offices to process claims.

However, buying interest was somewhat subdued after last night's news that the Senate finally voted to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shrugging off concerns among some Republican Senators about an expansion of unemployment benefits, the Senate eventually voted 96 to 0 in favor of the bill.

The bill now heads to the Democrat-controlled House, which will be under pressure to quickly send the legislation to President Donald Trump's desk.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House will take up the legislation on Friday with strong bipartisan support.

"The longer the crisis lasts the more likely that even good quality businesses will fail and unemployment will climb higher - hence the importance of the agreement on the fiscal package that can provide support for key industries and small businesses," said ING Chief International Economist James Knightley.

The higher close by treasuries also came after the Treasury Department revealed strong demand for its auction of $32 billion worth of seven-year notes.

The seven-year note auction drew a high yield of 0.680 percent and a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.76, while the ten previous seven-year note auctions had an average bid-to-cover ratio of 2.39.

The bid-to-cover ratio is a measure of demand that indicates the amount of bids for each dollar worth of securities being sold.

Reports on personal income and spending and consumer sentiment are due to be released on Friday but are not likely to attract much attention.

Traders are more likely to keep an eye on developments on Capitol Hill, where the House will be seeking to pass the stimulus bill without forcing all members to return to Washington.

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