NEW YORK — Bond prices were mixed in quiet trading Wednesday, and traders said there was no reaction to a Commerce Department report of a modest 1.5% drop in new home sales in October.
Some economists said the report was an indication of continuing strength in the economy, because home sales did not seem to be damaged by high interest rates in early October and the collapse of the stock market on Oct. 19.
But Henry Engler, a money-market economist at Chemical Bank, said the only notable factor affecting the bond market was an unconfirmed news report that the Reagan Administration would not help prop up the value of the dollar.
The report was not given much credence, Engler said.
The dollar weakened late in the day, but not enough to scare bond investors. Stock prices rose slightly.
"There's nothing happening," said Robert J. Genetski, chief economist at Harris Trust & Savings Bank in Chicago. "I don't think there have been any significant developments. People are still waiting to see what will happen to the economy after the stock market crash."
The bellwether 30-year Treasury issue fell 1/16 point, or about 60 cents for every $1,000 in face value, from late Tuesday's price. Its yield, which moves opposite from its price, rose fractionally to just over 9.13%.
In the secondary market for Treasury bonds, prices of short-term governments were unchanged to up 1/32 point, intermediate maturities rose 1/32 point and long-term issues were down 1/16 to 3/32 point, according to Telerate, the financial information service.
The movement of a point is equivalent to a change of $10 in the price of a bond with a $1,000 face value.
The Merrill Lynch daily Treasury index, which measures price movements on all outstanding Treasury issues with maturities of a year or longer, rose 0.02 to 109.73. The Shearson Lehman daily Treasury bond index, which makes a similar measurement, rose 0.95 to 1,149.08.
In the municipal bond market, revenue bonds rose 1/2 to 5/8 point and general-obligation issues rose to 3/8 point, the Merrill Lynch investment firm said.
In corporate trading, industrials and utilities were unchanged in light trading, according to the investment firm of Salomon Bros.
Yields on three-month Treasury bills fell 6 basis points to 5.41%, according to Telerate. Six-month bills fell to 6.16% and one-year bills were unchanged at 6.55%. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, traded late in the day at 6.875%, down from 7% Tuesday.