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Why rates could stay low for a while

Why rates could stay low for a while

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Why rates could stay low for a while

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It’s the most curious thing going on in the markets today: Interest rates have been heading lower despite a rising stock market.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note is trading near its 52-week lows. A bit more than a year ago, when the bond market began its “taper tantrum,” few would imagine rates under 3 percent. On Friday, the 10-year closed at 2.415 percent.

But according to one rate watcher, yields may stay low for a while.

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Craig Johnson, senior technical analyst at Piper Jaffray, says rates in the U.S. are still high relative to the other six “G7” major economies. He is particularly focused on a chart of the average of G7 10-year bond yields compared with the U.S. 10-year.

(WatchLow rates boost REITs, commercial real estate stocks)

“We’ve actually been seeing that spread widening out, meaning that the 10-year bond yield in the U.S. is a lot more attractive than any of the other G7 countries,” Johnson said. “The U.S. is more attractive than Europe right now.”

Johnson sees the spread between the U.S. and the rest of the G7 countries widening, thanks to Federal Reserve policy. “I don’t see a change in trend right now,” he said. “It’s doing the job for the Fed right now.”

However, Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, thinks bond prices, which move in the opposite direction of rates, are too high. “The whole bond market as a whole is actually quite overpriced right now,” she said. Rates are “probably going to have to rise, unless this economic recovery isn’t what we think it is.”

(Read: Bonds turn negative as Russia-Ukraine crisis eases)

The economy is expected to grow steadily by 2015, according to Sanchez, a CNBC contributor. “There’s reason to think that we should see higher rates eventually,” she said, adding that the challenge is whether the Federal Reserve Bank raises rates too soon before the economy stabilizes. “Right now, we’re in a wait and see mode. We need to watch the data.”

To see the full discussion on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note, with Johnson on the technicals and Sanchez on the fundamentals, watch the above video.

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