Interest rates held steady on Thursday ahead of today's employment report.

Stocks were mixed, and the dollar was unchanged against the Japanese yen. At 4 p.m. in New York, the government's 30-year bond yielded 6.86%, down 1 basis point from Wednesday.

In the intermediate sector, 10-year notes yielded 6.01%, and five-year notes 5.23%. Two-year notes yielded 4.14%.

The consensus among economists is that nonfarm payrolls grew 120,000 to 150,000 last month, though some think the increase might have been as low as 40,000.

Climate for a Tightening

Alan Levenson, money market economist at UBS Securities, predicted a 210,000-job rise and a 0.3% increase in wages.

"If this happens, the Fed would tighten, though not immediately," he said.

Reports that the Federal Reserve has adopted a pro-tightening stance has investors focusing on inflation more than payrolls.

For example, next week's reports on producer and consumer prices are getting more attention than the jobs data.

Eye on Wages

So, if the jobs gain were moderate but the wage increase greater than expected, "the market wouldn't like it," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 8.58 points to 3,544.87. The Standard

Poor's 500 index fell 1.35 to 452.50. But the Nasdaq composite index gained 0.36 to 706.22.

In late New York trading, the dollar was at 107.20 yen, unchanged, and at 1.5993 marks, up from 1.5978.

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