Following the sharp pullback seen over the two previous sessions, treasuries showed a lack of direction throughout the trading day on Thursday.
Bond prices spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before closing roughly flat. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 1.644 percent.
The choppy trading on the day came as traders seemed reluctant to make any significant moves ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report on Friday.
Employment is expected to increase by about 160,000 jobs in January after rising by 145,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.5 percent.
A day ahead of the release the monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by much more than expected in the week ended February 1st.
The report said initial jobless claims slid to 202,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 217,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 215,000 from the 216,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 193,000 in the week ended April 13, 2019.
A separate report released by the Labor Department showed a notable rebound in labor productivity in the fourth quarter.
The Labor Department said labor productivity jumped by 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter after edging down by 0.2 percent in the third quarter. Economists had expected productivity to surge up by about 1.5 percent.
The report said unit labor costs also shot up by 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter after spiking by 2.5 percent in the previous quarter. The continued increase in labor costs matched economist estimates.
Trading on Friday may be driven by reaction to the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report for January.
The jobs report is likely to overshadow separate reports on wholesale inventories and consumer credit, which typically do not have much impact on the markets.