NEW YORK — Bond prices closed unchanged to slightly higher Thursday as traders awaited today's scheduled release of the government's latest unemployment figures.
The Treasury's bellwether 30-year bond rose 5/16 point, or about $3.13 for every $1,000 in face value. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction from its price, slipped to 9.09% from 9.11% on Wednesday.
William V. Sullivan, director of money market research for the investment firm Dean Witter Reynolds, said the bond market was "marking time in advance of the critical employment data."
Maury Harris, with Paine Webber Inc., said: "There's not a great deal of willingness to make big bets" before the April numbers are announced.
Bond traders were concerned that the unemployment report would show stronger-than-expected job growth and possibly prompt the Federal Reserve Board to tighten its credit policy to hold inflation back. Rising interest rates drive bond prices lower.
In the secondary market for Treasury bonds, prices of short-term government issues were down 1/32 point, intermediate issues ranged from 3/32 point lower to 1/32 point higher and 20-year issues were unchanged, according to figures provided by Telerate Inc., a 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, slipped 0.05 to 109.99. The Shearson Lehman Hutton composite index, which makes a similar measurement, was down 0.46 at 1,150.95.
In corporate trading, industrial and utility bonds were unchanged in light trading, according to the investment firm Salomon Bros.
Moody's investment grade corporate bond index, which measures price movements on 80 corporate bonds with maturities of five years or longer, was up 0.34 at 277.84.
Tax-exempt municipal bonds were down 3/32 point.
Yields on three-month Treasury bills, meanwhile, rose 2 basis points to 6.19%. Six-month bills were up one basis point at 6.39% and one-year bills were up 1 basis point at 6.74%. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
The federal funds rate, the interest charged on overnight loans between banks, was quoted at 6.813%, up from 6% on Wednesday.
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