European bond yields continue to rise over the past week

10-year German bond yields rise to its highest levels in a month


Meanwhile, 10-year French and Spanish bond yields have both climbed to their highest levels since May 2019 to start the day. This comes as we also see Treasury yields rebound higher, with 10-year yields up by 10 bps to 0.82% currently.
It is tough to try and make sense with what is happening in the market because things change so quickly but I would argue that the selloff in European bonds isn’t exactly a good sign for the euro currency in general.
I would say the rise in Treasury yields represents a bit of a disconnect because the move higher there reflects more closely the slightly better risk mood today – which is also helping USD/JPY to stay underpinned, alongside gains in the dollar today that is.

Another sharp day down in the major US indices

Yields fall to new lows

The risk off flows continued in the US stock market and debt market.
The Dow industrial average was down over 1000 points at 1 point during the day. The S&P index fell below the 3000 level briefly before rebounding in the last hour of trading.
In the US debt market yields resumed their downward bias after yesterdays modest rebound.
The final numbers for the major indices are showing:
  • S&P index -106.18 points or -3.39% at 3023.94. The low price extended to 2999.83. The high was up at 3083.04
  • NASDAQ index fell -279.49 points or -3.10% at 8738.59. The low price reached 8677.387. The high price extended to 8921.078
  • Dow industrial average fell minus this 969.58 points or -3.58% at 26121.28. The low price extended to 25943.33. The high price reached 26671.92
In the US debt market the 10 year yield fell to a new record low level of 0.898%. It is currently trading at 0.91%. That is still down -14.2 basis points on the day. The yield curve flattening a bit to 32.49 basis points from close to 36 basis points the close yesterday, but all maturity levels fell by over -10 basis points.

US yields tumbled lower

The bond market isn’t feeling too upbeat on trade talks

Treasury yields fall across the curve to session lows


10-year yields are down by 2.5 bps to 1.644% as yields slip across the curve to start the European morning. While equities are holding higher, the bond market is sending a different signal with regards to positioning ahead of the trade talks outcome.
Essentially, this is what is holding yen pairs back from moving higher on the day with USD/JPY still seen near flat levels at 108.00.
Markets are mixed and a bit paralysed at the moment as everyone is just waiting to see what happens to talks in Washington later today. I reckon that will remain the case ahead of North American trading before we get more trade headlines to work with.

US stocks mixed as attention turns to Fed

US stocks were mixed as Federal Reserve officials cast doubts on further rate cuts and a reading on domestic manufacturing stoked concerns over the health of the economy. The S&P 500 ticked 0.1 per cent lower after drifting between gains and losses, with investors turning their attention to the central bank’s annual summit where chairman Jay Powell will speak on Friday. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.4 per cent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 per cent on a rally in shares of Boeing. Central bankers from around the world have descended on Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a policy symposium that is closely watched by investors seeking clues on monetary policy.

Market participants are looking for the Fed to follow its July rate cut with another one in September, but at the start of the Jackson Hole gathering on Thursday, Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker and Kansas City Fed president Esther George indicated in television interviews that they would not back further cuts. “My sense was we’ve added accommodation, and it wasn’t required in my view,” Ms George, one of two dissenters in the July decision, told CNBC. Mr Harker, who is not a voting member of the Fed’s policy setting committee, said he believes the federal funds rate is around its neutral level, adding: “I think we should stay here for a while and see how things play out.” The US 10- and two-year yield curve inverted for the second time this week following the remarks. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 3.3 basis points to 1.6097 per cent, while the policy-sensitive two-year yield was up 4.5bp at 1.6141 per cent. An inverted yield curve is considered a sign that investors expect a recession.

US stocks erase yesterday’s declines (and then some) and close with decent gains

Ignores the 2-10 going negative again

The US stocks erased the declines from yesterday (and then some). The gains also ignored what was a flattening of the yield curve to flat 2-10s again (although positive now by a basis point or two).
The final numbers are showing:
  • The S&P index +23.92 points or 0.82% at 2924.43
  • The NASDAQ index of 71.646 points or 0.90% at 8020.20
  • The Dow industrial average of 240.29 points or 0.93% at 26202.73.
Below is a summary of the % change high/% change low/% change close for the North American and European major indices.  Most European indices had an even better day.
Ignores the 2-10 going negative againBelow are the changes and ranges for the US debt curve (from 2-30 years).  The 2-10 spread is 1.53 bps currently, down from 4.32 bps at the close yesterday. The thing about today’s move is the yields are higher across the board with the shorter end up more due to the taking out more of the 50 BP cut idea.
US yields are higher with a flatter yield curve.

The Powell prepared text headlines sent:

  • The dollar lower.
  • It reversed pre-market stocks from being down (S&P was down about 8-9 points) to up.
  • It sent yields on US treasuries lower with the short end leading the way (yield curve steepening). The 2 year was at 1.919% at the start of the NY session. It is down at 1.82% now.
  • Gold moved from negative to positive (gold is up over $20 near the end of the trading day)

Do Stocks Fall Faster than They Rise?

Think about it1) Markets fall faster than they rise — and options traders know this. Otherwise, arbitraging this difference would be a meal for a lifetime.

2) Market participants perhaps anticipate that the realized volatility during a bear market is greater than a bull market. However, the problem with this analysis is one might expect to see an upward sloping volatility yield curve in out-of-the-money puts (during bull markets), and yet that does not usually occur based on my tests. Conversely, right now have a downward sloping yield curve in out of the money calls — which confirms the hypothesis that market participants anticipate slower price rises in the future. [Note to quants: I am not confusing delta, gamma and vega. I’m using options to predict terminal price at expiration.]

3) For most humans, fear of loss is a stronger emotion/motivator than the pleasure of gain (greed). This is well documented in the psychology and behavioral finance literature. Hence, ceterus paribus, capital market participants (who have a net long position) will, as a group, pull their rip cord faster — to flee from risk — than they will embrace the possibility of profit.

Nine Reasons Why Greece, PIIGS Approaching Irreversible Slide to Default

  • Like other emerging market nations, it has entered a vicious cycle in which market skepticism creates higher borrowing costs and actually pushes the country closer to the abyss, its demise becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. Once that momentum begins, it is very hard to stop the decline in confidence.
  • Fitch downgrade means no more room to fall before junk bond status: Fitch’s downgrade of 2 notches from BBB+ to BBB- means the next level down is junk bond status, leaving Greece with no collateral to use for borrowing from the ECB. This after the ECB yielded and agreed to accept the BBB+ rating after 2010.
  • Yield on Greek debt is now above many countries with lower, junk-rated bonds: What does that tell you about where Greece’s ratings, and thus yields, are going?
  • A quickening death spiral has started.
  • Extreme austerity measures cut GDP and tax receipts, spur capital flight from banks.
  • EU’s March 25th rescue accord failed, eroding EU credibility: The EU needed a big, timely, decisive rescue package with an announcement shock effect similar to Washington’s guarantee of the too big to fail banks back in September of 2008. It needed to show that no matter what, the EU would not let Greece default, even if it meant effective EU stewardship and economic occupation, and Greece had to agree to it. Instead, neither Greece nor its rescuers have approached the issue with this level of life-or-death seriousness. Both sides have chosen to bicker, bargain, and attempt to hold out for better deals in a deadly game of chicken. The result, the EU’s credibility is damaged, and the EU was the last hope for the markets, as Greece has long ago lost credibility.
  • Greece selling short term bills into a steeply inverted Greek yield curve: The Greek Yield Curve is inverted from 3 months to 5 years. Yet Greece will attempt to sell 26 week and 52 week paper, after having failed to sell long term bonds. Looks like the rates will be too high once again, even if there is demand.
  • Greece needs to find €10 bln by May. The EU and/or IMF will probably give them that one way or another. However this is just delaying the inevitable. Greece needs another estimated €30 bln to make it through the year.
  • EU failure on Greece endangering other PIIGS block members. Spain alone needs to sell €30 bln of bonds in July. It is in better shape than Greece. However, as noted in Contagion Spreads: PIIGS Credit Default Spreads Rising On Greece Default Fears, Spain and its fellow PIIGS colleagues are watching in horror as their own borrowing costs are rising to new highs on fear generated by Greece’s woes. Should Spain need help, there will be little or no cash left in the EU accord. Markets know this, which in turn sparks more fear and higher rates, pushing Spain and the others closer to the edge themselves. Note that Spain and Italy have debt loads many times larger than Greece’s, and that fact alone may doom them unless the EU can inspire confidence and get borrowing rates down.
  • About the author: Cliff Wachtel

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