NEW YORK (AP) _ Bond prices moved higher Thursday, as investors pondered whether an unexpected pickup in jobless claims might slow the Federal Reserve's plans to hike interest rates.

The price of the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 1/2 point, or $5 per $1,000 in face value. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction, fell to 4.71 percent from 4.77 percent late Wednesday.

The 30-year Treasury bond advanced 23/32 point to yield 5.43 percent, from 5.48 percent a day earlier, according to Moneyline Telerate.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 345,000 for the week ending May 15, slightly higher than what many analysts had forecast.

Also Thursday, the Conference Board issued a lower-than-expected increase in its Index of Leading Economic Indicators. The index, which predicts the strength of the economy up to six months ahead, also gave investors a reason to hope the Fed would move cautiously. Higher interest rates make bonds, which tend to offer lower rates of return, less attractive investments.

In other trading, the benchmark 2-year note rose 1/8 point to yield 2.50 percent, from 2.56 percent a day earlier. Intermediate maturities advanced between 3/16 point and 3/8 point.

Yields on one-month Treasury bills were 0.89 percent as the discount held steady at 0.87 percent.

Yields on three-month Treasury bills were 1.02 percent as the discount fell 0.02 percentage point to 1.00. Six-month yields were 1.35 percent, as the discount slipped 0.02 percentage point to 1.32 percent.

Yields are the interest bonds pay by maturity, while the discount is the interest at which they are sold.

The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, remained 1.00 percent.

In the tax-exempt market, the Bond Buyer index of 40 actively traded municipal bonds rose 9/32 point to 105 9/16. The average yield to maturity fell to 5.29 percent from 5.30 percent.