According to a widely reprinted and circulated report in the Wall Street Journal, for the first time since 2000, U.S. government bonds now yield more than all of their developed world counterparts. Looking just at the 10-year security, the yield on the benchmark Treasury note now yields more compared to a record number of countries, and the yield differential between the U.S. government note and its German bund counterpart is its widest in almost 30 years.
Basically, this means that the arguably safest investment available anywhere in the world – the one American business schools still hold up as a “riskless” benchmark – yields way more than most other sovereign debt, including Italy’s, Canada’s and Australia’s – but no, not Greece’s, although they’re not too far off.
On Wednesday morning, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note moved back over 3%. In just the past five years, though, that has only happened twice before, but then only for a day or so. Is this the time the yield breaks 3% and stays there?
The most recent time before Wednesday, of course, was just two weeks ago. On April 24 the yield moved a hair above 3.0%%, then hit 3.03% the next day. It then quickly retreated below the magic number and hasn’t gone above it until now.
Before then, the last time the yield hit 3% – and I mean just – was at the very end of 2013 and the very beginning of 2014. It hovered right at 3% for a few days and then subsequently dropped sharply, eventually falling to well below 2.0% over the next year. The last time the note has been comfortably over 3% and remained there, was back in the summer of 2011.
What is it about that 3% mark that fixates investors – or rather, attracts them? Just like in 2013, that 3% figure seems to serve as a buy signal for investors.
Hello traders everywhere. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield has risen above 3% for the first time since January of 2014, signaling that higher interest rates are ahead for the U.S. bond market as the Federal Reserve is intent on boosting interest rates after keeping them at historically low levels for some time. The yield, the benchmark for everything from U.S. mortgages to dollar bonds in developing nations, climbed as high as 3.0014% in morning trading, before slipping back below 3% to 2.979% in the early afternoon.
As the 10-year yield broke three percent the stock market turned lower with the DOW losing over 1% on the day with the S&P 500 losing .80% and the NASDAQ falling 1.4% as tech is posting heavy losses.
Speaking of tech, the FAANG stocks are all lower on the day with Alphabet leading the way. Alphabet (Google) is posting a loss of over 4.5% on the day after reporting earnings where they made a lot of money, but investors are worried about rising expenses.
The other FAANG members are posting steep losses as well. Facebook declined 3.4%, Amazon 3.8%, Netflix declined 4.2% and Apple is losing just a tad over 1% on the day.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is this close to hitting the psychologically important 3% level. Is this the sign of still higher rates to come, or another buying opportunity, meaning rates are going to fall back again?
While most of the market seemed not to notice, seeing as it was fixated on corporate earnings and what’s going on in the tech sector, the yield on the T-note surged by 14 basis points last week to close Friday at 2.96%. That’s up nearly 25 bps since the beginning of this month and 55 bps year to date. It’s also the highest level since the beginning of 2014.
If you recall, we got close to hitting 3% two months ago, when the yield spiked to 2.95% on February 21, surging 25 bps in just two weeks before retreating quickly back to about 2.80% by the end of the month. The note then traded in a fairly narrow band between 2.80% and 2.90% over the next month before dropping sharply to 2.73% at the end of March and early April, after which it surged to Friday’s level.
New Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell had all kinds of excuses not to raise interest rates at last week’s FOMC meeting:
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was trading close to its highest point in more than four years and dangerously close to breaking the 3% barrier.
Stocks have fallen well off their highs, and investors are nervous about the prospects of a potential trade war between the U.S. and its biggest trading partners, particularly China and Canada.
The threat of that trade war has influenced some economic forecasters to lower their GDP growth forecasts for the first quarter to below 2%, which would be the lowest level since President Trump took office.
The turmoil in the Trump Administration, with cabinet secretaries and other senior officials jumping ship or being pushed overboard, doesn’t help calm the waters.
Yet Powell and the seven other voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee saw fit to raise the federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point to a range between 1.5% and 1.75%. Not only that, but the FOMC stuck to its guns and indicated a steady diet of rate increases over the next three years, pushing rates closer and closer back to what used to be normal before the global financial crisis. After three rate increases this year, three more are likely next year followed by two more in 2020, which would boost the fed funds rates to a range of 3.25% and 3.5%.
And yet the world didn’t end. In fact, the yields on Treasury securities actually fell after the meeting ended on Wednesday afternoon. The 10-year note, the bond market’s long-term benchmark, trading just below 2.90% on Tuesday, fell five basis points after the meeting to 2.85%. The yield on the two-year note, which is more sensitive to interest rate changes, dropped seven bps after the meeting. Continue reading "The Powell Era Begins"→