Economic indicators released yesterday suggested more strength in the economy than bond investors were expecting, but resulting price declines remained within the recent range in quiet, end-of-quarter trading.

By the end of the New York session, the long bond was off 11/32 point, to yield 6.01%.

"The market is quietly grinding lower," said Dana Johnson, a vice president and head of market analysis at First Chicago Corp. "But this is just a move within the trading range."

Johnson said it would be premature to say the market's long-term trend is shifting lower. The determination could be made more definitively next week, he said, when the Labor Department releases employment figures for September.

First Chicago is expecting the number to show a gain of about 150,000 nonfarm payroll jobs, and Johnson said increases much higher than that "could put a little fear" into the market.

One surprise yesterday was the Purchasing Management Association of Chicago's index of area business activity, which rose to 54.5% in September from 50.2% in August.

But sales of new single-family houses showed a decline of 3.1% in August, the second consecutive monthly drop despite 25-year lows on mortgage rates.

Personal income for the month increased 1.3% from July, more than analysts had expected and the fastest rate in four months.

Economists said income got a boost from a rebound in farm and rental income that had been depressed in July by Midwest flooding and a drought in the Southeast.

Crop damage reduced farmers' income at an annual rate of $24 billion in July but only $3 billion in August. Excluding the effects of weather, income would have increased 0.6% in August and 0.5% in July.

A spokesman for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said at a weekly press briefing yesterday that the nation's M1 money supply rose $9.7 billion in the week ended Sept. 20; the broader M2 aggregate gained $1.1 billion; and M3 increased $4.8 billion in the same period.

"The blend of economic news today was mildly stronger than people might have expected," Johnson said.

Today the market will see the National Association of Purchasing Managers' report for September and the index of leading economic indicators for August.

In late afternoon trading yesterday, the 6 1/4% 30-year bond was down 11/32 to yield 6.01%. The 5 3/4% 10-year note was off 6/32 to yield 5.37%. And the 5 1/2% seven-year note was down 1/32 to yield 4.95%.

The 3 7/8% two-year note was down 1/32 to yield 3.85%, and the 4 3/8% 3-year note was down 2/32 to yield 4.16%.

Rates on the Treasury's three-month bill were down one basis point to 2.92%. The six-month bill was two basis points lower at 3.05%, and the rate on the year bill was up two basis points to 3.25%.

In the futures market, the price of the December Treasury bond contract closed down 17/32 to 118 17/32.

In other news, the Treasury said yesterday it will change the way it calculates the yield curve on Treasury securities.

Starting today, the Treasury will incorporate the prevailing market yield on an outstanding Treasury bond with approximately 20 years remaining until maturity, the department said in a written statement.

"This technical change, which is being adopted in order to more accurately reflect yields in the maturity area between 10-and 30-years, will be effective at the close of business on Oct. 1, 1993," the statement says.

Treasury officials said they had been interpolating the maturity between the 10-year note and 30-year bond since 1986 "because of a scarcity of securities trading in the 20-year maturity area after the Treasury ceased issuing 20-year bonds earlier that year."

But a Treasury official said there are now enough aged 30-year bonds in the secondary market to make the calculation meaningful.

The department also said it will continue to calculate yields around the seven-year maturity mark even though it recently stopped issuing seven-year notes.

Dean Patterson contributed to this column.Treasury Market Yields Prev. Prev. Thursday Week Month3-Month Bill 2.96 2.96 3.036-Month Bill 3.12 3.13 3.161-Year Bill 3.35 3.36 3.312-Year Note 3.85 3.90 3.803-Year Note 4.16 4.18 4.135-Year Note 4.76 4.81 4.757-Year Note 4.95 4.98 5.0010-Year Note 5.37 5.42 5.4030-Year Bond 6.01 6.06 6.03Source: Cantor, Fitzgerald/Telerate

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