Bond traders focused Thursday on weak economic data while equity investors responded to better-than-expected home sales data, leaving both types of securities higher.
Jobless claims fell less than expected, and the Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to -0.29 in March, below economists' expectations. A reading below zero indicates below-average economic growth. The National Association of Realtors said U.S. pending home sales increased 4.1 percent last month, topping expectations.
Stocks. Asian stock indexes posted mildly positive gains. European equities headed down toward three-month lows due to weakening consumer and industrial sentiments and despite better-than-expected earnings reports from automakers and energy companies. In the U.S., an uplifting housing report raised markets despite mixed corporate earnings. By early Thursday the Street's consensus on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's day-earlier comments was that the central bank was open to more money printing if the economy worsens.
Bonds. Treasurys increased on the unexpectedly poor report of weekly jobless claims in the U.S. Across the Atlantic, the European Commission's Economic Sentiment Indicator erased all the gains it had made in the first quarter and French unemployment rose. Asian bond markets were busy as the region's companies raised up to $3.7 billion.
Currencies. Yen strength dominated the day's trading, with the dollar faling to nearly a three-week low and the euro slipping to a three-week high against the greenback. The British pound sterling climbed to a seven-and-a-half month high against the dollar.
Commodities. Crude oil prices remained relatively unchanged as investors considered a decline in durable good and transportation orders in the U.S. and rising inventories. Copper rose to a two-week high bolstered by the positive U.S. housing report. Cattle futures also rebounded from a decline over a report of a case of mad cow in California after Canada and Japan said they would not impose a ban on U.S. beef. Other agricultural commodities ended mixed.