The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield touched its lowest level in about three months on Wednesday, as investors worried about the potential for the U.S. economy to slow more than anticipated in 2023.
The yield on the 2-year Treasury
slipped 10.2 basis points to 4.256% as of 3 p.m. Eastern.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury
retreated 10.5 basis point to 3.407% as of 3 p.m. Eastern, its lowest yield since Sept. 12, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
The yield on the 30-year Treasury
fell 10.7 basis points to 3.414% as of 3 p.m. Eastern, the lowest since Sept. 7.
What’s driving markets
Yields on longer dated Treasury bonds tumbled to their lowest levels in about three months on Wednesday, on investor concerns that inflation-fighting interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve could trigger a sharper downturn than anticipated.
The yield spread between 2-year and 10-year Treasurys sits at minus 85 basis points, near the widest since 1981. An inversion so great has usually preceded a recession.
The focus was also on oil futures Wednesday, after West Texas Intermediate crude for January
delivery closed at $72.01 a barrel, the lowest finish for a front-month contract since Dec. 21, 2021, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
On the economic front, a U.S. productivity report showed weaker output but accelerating labor costs, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. Unit labor costs, the price of labor per single unit of output, climbed by a smaller 2.4% annual pace in the third quarter, compared with the preliminary 3.5% increase.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, on Tuesday said the U.S. central bank’s tighter monetary policy will likely “cause a mild or hard recession” within “six to nine months.”
Markets are pricing in a 77% probability that the Fed will raise its policy interest rate by another 50 basis points to a range of 4.25% to 4.50% after its meeting on Dec. 14, according to the CME FedWatch tool. The central bank is expected to take its fed-funds rate target to 4.95% by May 2023, according to 30-day Fed Funds futures.
The Bank of Canada on Wednesday raised its key rate by 50 basis points to 3.75% to 4.25%, the highest level in nearly 15 years.
“However, the Bank clearly signalled a pause in interest rate hikes is on the horizon, in line with our view that this will be the final rate hike this cycle,” said Tony Stillo, director of Canada economics at Oxford Economics, in a client note Wednesday.
What are analysts saying
“Bonds are mesmerized by the fact that oil can’t hold a rally,” said Jim, Vogel, a fixed income strategist at FHN Financial, in a phone interview with MarketWatch. The trend raises questions about whether traders in the oil complex “see something wrong with the economy” that economists and the Federal Reserve don’t, he said.
“Later this week, there is the PPI and University of Michigan to watch out for on Friday. Inflation expectations in the University of Michigan will be interesting to see after the longer-term one rose to 3% from 2.9% in October,” said Jan Nevruzi, U.S. rates strategist at NatWest Capital Markets.
“Powell has used the University of Michigan numbers to justify Fed reaction earlier this hiking cycle, but to us that felt more of an ex-post justification of the hawkish path they took, rather than the reason for it. As far as the sentiment index, we see risks heading into next year towards the downside on recessions and unemployment concerns.”