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Investors piled into U.S. and European government bonds after the Federal Reserve and other central banks signaled a possible end to the cycle of interest rate hikes that has weighed on the bond market for more than a year.
In one of the biggest falls in borrowing costs since the Silicon Valley bank collapsed in March, investors pushed down the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds, a gauge of global asset prices, by more than 0.3 percentage points in two days.
Government bond markets also rallied across Europe, a shift that, if sustained, could have a profound impact on the cost of capital for governments and companies after a long sell-off that has hit bondholders hard.
The bond rally supported stock markets, with the S&P 500 index in the US rising 1.4 percent – making Thursday one of the market’s most positive days since March.
The fall in the 10-year Treasury yield, which moves inversely to the price, came after Fed Chairman Jay Powell’s comments on Wednesday that were seen as dovish by investors.
The central bank had previously left its key interest rate at a level between 5.25 and 5.5 percent.
Solita Marcelli, chief investment officer for the Americas at UBS Wealth Management, said: “The meeting underscores our view that the Fed is likely done tightening and that markets have become too aggressive in pushing for higher interest rates for an extended period of time to price in.”
Powell stressed that the Fed is “taking a cautious approach” to future interest rate hikes, which investors took as a sign that bond markets have largely succeeded in slowing the U.S. economy.
However, he also warned that the central bank is “not yet convinced” that monetary policy is tight enough to bring inflation back to its 2 percent target.
The level of investor reaction to the Fed chair’s comments highlighted how eager many are to see the end of monetary tightening, which has increased borrowing costs for households and businesses around the world.
Previous interest rate hikes by the Fed and a sharp expansion of the U.S. government’s borrowing plans had contributed to the ongoing selloff that saw 10-year yields rise above 5 percent last month for the first time in 16 years.
Wednesday’s rally saw 10-year U.S. Treasury yields fall 0.19 percentage points, the biggest one-day decline since the SVB collapse, according to Bloomberg data. They slipped a further 0.12 percentage points to 4.67 percent on Thursday.
Investors have been caught off guard in the past by prematurely calling for an end to the Fed’s rate-hiking cycle.
But Tiffany Wilding, chief executive of bond investment firm Pimco, argued that Powell’s comments on Wednesday did not appear to prepare the market for a possible rate hike in December, “and as a result there is some easing in financial conditions.”
The Treasury Department also cut U.S. Treasury yields after announcing Wednesday it would slow the pace of longer-term debt issuance.
British government bonds also rose after the Bank of England announced on Thursday that it would keep interest rates at 5.25 percent.
Two-year Treasury yields, which reflect interest rate expectations, fell 0.09 percentage points to 4.70 percent, the lowest since June. The benchmark 10-year government bond yield fell by 0.15 percentage points to 4.35 percent.
The yield on 10-year German bonds – the benchmark for the euro zone – fell 0.05 percentage point to 2.7 percent after labor market data suggested the country’s economy was stagnating.
Source : www.ft.com