U.S. government debt prices were slightly higher on Thursday ahead of fresh weekly jobless claims figures, after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates close to zero until the U.S. economy is firing on all cylinders.
At around 2:20 a.m. ET, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was lower at 0.6077%, while the yield on the 30-year bond was down slightly at 1.2334%. Yields move inversely to prices.
Unemployment claims totals for the week ending April 25 are due for release at 8:30 a.m. ET, with a consensus 3.5 million new filings expected, according to Dow Jones.
The previous week saw 4.4 million Americans filing for unemployment, taking the total to 26.4 million over a five-week period amid an unprecedented number of layoffs and furloughs due to coronavirus pandemic.
Following this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, the Fed on Wednesday decided to maintain its current interest rate target range of between 0% and 0.25%.
The central bank said this would remain the case until full employment returns and inflation gets back to around the Fed’s long-stated 2% goal. The Fed cautioned that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will “weigh heavily” on the near-term outlook, posing “considerable risks” in the medium term.
Concern for the state of the economy deepened Wednesday as first-quarter GDP (gross domestic product) from the Commerce Department showed the sharpest economic contraction since the financial crisis, shrinking by 4.8%.
With lockdowns ravaging economic activity and millions of Americans filing for unemployment each week, economists are bracing for a record slump in output for the second quarter.
Investors are also reacting to news of a potentially positive result to a study from Gilead Sciences into the use of antiviral drug remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, which is driving some risk-on sentiment going into Thursday on Wall Street.
A host of March PCE (personal consumption expenditures) inflation data is also due at 8:30 a.m. ET, along with personal income and spending figures for March.
Auctions will be held Thursday for $90 billion of 4-week Treasury bills, $70 billion of 8-week bills and $30 billion of 154-day bills.
– CNBC’s Patti Domm, Yun Li and Maggie Fitzgerald contributed reporting.