March payrolls posted the weakest monthly gain in two years, net of prior-month revision only 62,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent. However, slowing in the economy has been so widely expected and so thoroughly built into long-term rates that the 10-year Treasury is still 4.65 percent, and mortgages about 6.25 percent. The economy is now mushing along at stall speed, but for the bond market there's all the difference in the world between flying -- no matter how slowly -- and not. In news of latent strength, the twin surveys of purchasing managers ("ISM") bounced up in March from the no-fly zone at "50," manufacturing from 51 to 54.7, and service sector from a four-year low at 52.4 to 56. These surveys were confirmed by a surprising pop in factory orders, up 3.1 percent, but the bond market dismissed the gains as short-term improvements in a poor trend. New claims for unemployment insurance have fallen hard for two weeks in a row; new hires may be slipping, but layo...
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