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BOND INTEREST RATES PLUMMET

Associated Press

NEW YORK - A darkening view of the economy sent bond market interest rates to their lowest level in 14 months and kept many investors out of the stock market.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, considered a benchmark because it's used to set rates on consumer loans including mortgages, fell to 3.03 percent Monday, its lowest point since late April 2009. At that time, the markets were still recovering from the devastation of the financial crisis and collapse in stocks.

Treasurys benefited from investors' growing gloom. The latest bit of bad economic news came from the Commerce Department, which said consumers saved more than they spent last month. The government said consumer spending rose 0.2 percent last month, just above the 0.1 percent growth forecast by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. However, personal income rose 0.4 percent.

Investors are also growing anxious ahead of the release of the government's June employment report Friday. The May report was troubling because it showed that private employers are hiring few workers. That hurts the economy since consumers aren't likely to spend if they aren't working or are worried about losing their jobs.

Burt White, chief investment officer at LPL Financial in Boston, said the coming weeks will be important for investors because of the jobs report on Friday and the announcement of earnings for the April-June quarter. White said stronger profits could persuade businesses to start investing more. That, economists hope, will lead to more hiring. "Businesses have to commit to this recovery," White said.

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