Two stronger-than-expected economic reports pulled the bond market off its highs but left prices mixed on the day. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was unchanged, but the shortest- and longest-maturity Treasuries rose slightly.

All the while, volume was light and the trading range was narrow, as investors continued to bide their time ahead of the release of top-tier economic data later this week. Thursday brings the second-quarter

Employment Cost Index

(

definition |

chart |

source

) and June

durable goods orders

(

definition |

chart |

source

) report; Friday, the second-quarter advance

GDP

(

definition |

chart |

source

) report. "Obviously, everything is on hold 'til we see the ECI numbers on Thursday,"

Paribas Capital Markets

senior bond strategist Richard Gilhooly said.

Fed Chairman

Alan Greenspan appeared before the House Banking Committee, but as expected, he delivered the identical

testimony he presented to the Senate last week, and no new ground was broken in the Q&A that followed.

The 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 103 12/32 in late trading, its yield 6.027%. But the two-year note was up 1/32 at 100 2/32, dropping its yield a fraction of a basis point to 6.339%, and the 30-year bond was 5/32 higher at 106 8/32, lowering its yield 1.1 basis points to 5.805%.

At the

Chicago Board of Trade

, the September

Treasury futures contract rose 3/32 to 98 17/32.

Today's economic data detected unexpected strength in consumer confidence and home sales.

The

Consumer Confidence Index

(

definition |

chart |

source

) rose to 141.7 in July from a revised 139.2 in June. It had been forecast by economists polled by

Reuters

to rise to 139.3, on average.

Existing home sales

(

definition |

chart |

source

) rose 2.8% to a 5.23 million pace in June, the fastest since last August, from 5.09 million in May. They had been forecast to drop to 5.02 million.

The reports "raise questions about a key viewpoint offered in the

Humphrey-Hawkins testimony,"

Daiwa Securities

chief economist Michael Moran said, referring to the speech Greenspan gave last week and again today. Specifically, the assertion that consumer spending on homes is destined to slow for the simple reason that it has been growing at such a fast pace for so long.

Following the release of these reports, Treasuries gradually surrendered moderate gains they had made thanks, Gilhooly said, to the recent weakness in equities, strength in the European bond markets in their Tuesday session, and "a generally bullish tone to the Treasury market since Greenspan's speech, which he had the opportunity to change, but didn't."

A packed calendar of investment-grade corporate bond debuts also weighed on Treasuries, Gilhooly noted. Issuance is on track to total $11.25 billion this week, compared to a year-to-date average of $7.4 billion, according to

IDEAglobal.com

. Corporate bond issuance can trigger selling of Treasuries either by underwriters as a hedge or by investors who wish to buy the new bonds.

The damage wasn't worse, Daiwa's Moran surmised, because while the numbers were strong, "they didn't break into new territory in any way." Both the Consumer Confidence Index and the pace of existing home sales remain below peaks reached in the last year.

Economic Indicators

In other economic news, the two weekly retail sales reports posted unimpressive results. The

BTM Weekly U.S. Retail Chain Store Sales Index

(

definition |

chart ) fell 0.1% in the latest week, while the

Redbook Retail Average

(

definition |

chart ) found July sales running 1% ahead of June after three weeks, down from 1.2% after two weeks.

Currency and Commodities

The dollar rose against the yen and fell against the euro. It lately was worth 109.03 yen, up from 108.78. The euro was worth $0.9381, up from $0.9335. For more on currencies, see

TSC's

Currencies column.

Crude oil for September delivery at the

New York Mercantile Exchange

fell to $27.95 a barrel from $28.02.

The

Bridge Commodity Research Bureau Index

fell to 218.19 from 218.76.

Gold for August delivery at the

Comex

was unchanged at $279.30 an ounce.