Long-term Treasury bond prices spurted higher and shorter-term maturities weakened slightly Friday as a quiet market awaited next week's interest-rate policy meeting of the Federal Reserve Board.

The price of the Treasury's main 30-year bond rose 7-32 point, or $2.19 per $1,000 in face value. The yield, which moves in the opposite direction, fell to 7.85 percent from 7.87 percent late Thursday.The Commerce Department's report that housing starts surged 6.9 percent in November initially prompted selling in the bond market. But prices recovered after further analysis indicated that the building business benefited from unusually warm weather in parts of the country.

Bond investors tend to sell on data indicating strong economic growth, which can fuel inflation. Inflation erodes the value of Treasury bonds and other securities that pay a fixed rate of return.

Alan Levenson, money-market economist at the UBS Securities unit of Union Bank of Switzerland, said traders are sitting tight ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Tuesday.

The central bank has raised short-term interest rates six times this year to try to cool the economy and restrain inflation. Market participants are nervous about the prospect of another rate increase at next week's meeting, though most believe the Fed will refrain until its next meeting on Jan. 31.

"No want wants to change their positions very much before the FOMC meeting while many customers have closed their books already for the year," Levenson said.

Prices of short-term Treasury securities fell 3-32 point to 1/8 point and intermediate maturities fell 1-32 point to 1/8 point, the Telerate Inc. financial information service reported.

The Lehman Brothers Daily Treasury Bond Index, reflecting price movements on bonds with maturities of a year or longer, dipped 0.47 to 1,175.84.

Yields on three-month Treasury bills held at 5.69 percent as the discount was unchanged at 5.54 percent. Six-month yields rose to 6.49 percent as the discount added 0.02 percentage point, rising to 6.21 percent. One-year yields advanced to 7.10 percent as the discount rose 0.03 point to 6.66 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, was 51/2 percent, down from 5 11-16 percent late Thursday.

In the tax-exempt market, the Bond Buyer index of 40 actively traded municipal bonds closed at 84 18-32, down 5-32 from late Thursday. The average yield to maturity was 6.99 percent, up from 6.98 percent.