Bond prices rose slightly Friday as stocks stumbled and as a government report of slower growth in the nation's economy confirmed that inflation had all but disappeared in the second quarter of this year.
The price of the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond rose 5/32 point, or $1.56 per $1,000 in face value. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction, fell to 5.71 percent from 5.72 percent Thursday.The market's gains came late in the day, as stock prices stumbled. Government bonds often are sought as a safe place to park funds in times of market volatility.
Earlier in the day, the Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced, grew at a moderate 1.4 percent annual rate in the second quarter.
While that was down sharply from the torrid 5.5 percent reported in the first quarter, it still was stronger than many economists anticipated. Some forecasters had even been looking for a contraction in the economy.
Kathleen Stephanson, senior economist at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp., said bond traders were pleased with the inflation figures in the report. A price measure tied to the gross domestic product rose at a mere 0.8 percent annual rate in the quarter, the smallest increase since 1963.
The slower overall growth rate eased bond investors' fears that the economy is growing fast enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. Bond holders don't like higher interest rates because they erode the value of fixed-income investments.
In the broader market, prices of short-term Treasury securities were unchanged to up 1/32 point, and intermediate maturities were up 1/32 point to 1/16 point, reported Bridge Telerate, a financial information service.
The Lehman Brothers Daily Treasury Bond Index, reflecting price movements on bonds with maturities of a year or longer, rose 0.91 points to 1,286.41.
Yields on three-month Treasury bills were 5.07 percent as the discount rose 0.02 percentage point from Thursday to 4.95 percent. Six-month yields were 5.19 percent, as the discount was unchanged at 5.00 percent. One-year yields were 5.35 percent as the discount remained unchanged at 5.09 percent.
Yields are the interest bonds pay by maturity, while the discount is the interest at which they are sold.
The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, rose to 5.75 from 5.69 percent.
In the tax-exempt market, the Bond Buyer index of 40 actively traded municipal bonds fell 1/32 point to 123-17/32. The average yield to maturity rose to 5.26 percent from 5.25 percent.