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Treasury Yields Are Little Changed Amid Intensifying Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Source: NYSE
  • The number of initial jobless claims filed last week is due out at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • Economists are forecasting a print of 225,000, according to estimates from Dow Jones.

U.S. Treasury yields were little changed on Thursday, cooling off after moving sharply higher in the previous session.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was down 1 basis points to 1.85% in afternoon trading The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond ticked up less than 1 basis point at 2.24%. Yields move inversely to prices and 1 basis point is equal to 0.01%.

Yields have seen sharp falls since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, with investors flocking to safe haven assets amid the uncertainty. On Wednesday, however, the 10-year Treasury yield saw its biggest one-day jump since 2020, rising 18 basis points, as investors ditched government bonds for risk assets like stocks.

Russia's attack on Ukraine has now entered its second week. There were conflicting reports about which side controls the city of Kherson. Ukrainians still control the capital, Kyiv, despite Russian efforts to overtake the city. Port city Maripol and Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city, experienced heavy shelling Wednesday.

Oil prices declined on Wednesday after rising further overnight. West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, fell back below $110 per barrel. Rising oil prices have sparked concerns that this could push headline inflation higher.

"Fortunately, the U.S. economy has been growing at a strong pace, which should help soften the blow to economic growth from higher energy costs. But it also is exacerbating an upturn in inflation spurred by supply shortages coming out of the pandemic and strong consumer demand," Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at the Schwab Center for Financial Research, said in a note on Wednesday.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a congressional testimony on Wednesday that he still sees interest rate hikes ahead. However, he noted that the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the U.S. economy are "highly uncertain."

Powell testified before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, saying "I think we need to move carefully, but we certainly think it's appropriate for us to go ahead with our plan and also our plan to shrink the balance sheet, but just knowing we do not want to add to uncertainty."

On the economic front, jobless claims from last week came in lower than expected. However, the ISM services purchasing managers index showed a slower-than-expected expansion in February.

This comes ahead of the closely watched nonfarm payrolls report, due out on Friday morning. Economists are expecting 440,000 jobs to have been added during the month. January's report showed an increase of 467,000.

CNBC.com staff contributed to this market report.

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