After coming under pressure early in the session, treasuries recovered over the course of the trading day on Thursday before closing roughly flat.
Bond prices spent the afternoon lingering near the unchanged line. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 3.175 percent.
Treasuries initially moved to the downside as traders continued to digest the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting.
The minutes released Wednesday afternoon showed the Fed continues to favor a “gradual approach” to raising interest rates, with the meeting participants generally judging that the economy was evolving about as anticipated.
The Fed’s forecasts point to one more rate hike before the end of this year, with CME Group’s FedWatch indicating a nearly 80 percent chance of a quarter-point rate increase in December.
The central bank argued the “gradual approach” would balance the risk of raising rates too quickly, causing a slowdown in the economy, and raising rates too slowly, leading to inflation above the central bank’s 2 percent objective.
The Fed’s assessment that the “gradual approach” to raising rates remains appropriate comes even as President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the central bank for hiking rates too quickly.
However, treasuries rebounded after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced he will not attend an upcoming investment conference in Saudi Arabia.
“Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” Mnuchin said in a post on Twitter.
Mnuchin joins several other top executives and international finance leaders that have dropped out of the conference, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
The announcement by Mnuchin comes as Saudi Arabia continues to face considerable international pressure over the recent disappearance and apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended October 13th.
The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 210,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 215,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 212,000.
A separate report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area grew at a slightly slower rate in the month of October.
The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current general activity edged down to 22.2 in October from 22.9 in September, although a positive reading still indicates growth in regional manufacturing activity. The index had been expected to drop to 20.0.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board released a report showing its index of leading U.S. economic indicators increased in line with economist estimates in September.
The Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed by 0.5 percent in September after rising by 0.4 percent in August.
A report on existing home sales in the month of September may attract some attention on Friday, with existing home sales expected to drop by 0.7 percent.