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Treasuries Dive, Sending 10-Year Yield to Highest in Six Weeks

Vivien Lou Chen
Treasuries Dive, Sending 10-Year Yield to Highest in Six Weeks

(Bloomberg) -- Treasuries extended their September tumble, sending the benchmark 10-year yield to its highest level since early August, amid stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data.

Bonds fell after August retail sales and the September University of Michigan consumer sentiment index increased more than forecast, buoying confidence in the economic expansion. Yields across the curve rose, with the 10-year climbing more than 12 basis points to 1.90%, up from a three-year low of 1.43% early this month. The spread between 2-year and 10-year yields, considered a recession indicator when it inverts, as it did in August for the first time since 2007, widened back above 9 basis points.

The decline in Treasuries comes as some central-bank officials are re-evaluating the effectiveness of easing efforts ahead of the Federal Reserve’s Sept. 18 meeting. Odds of a quarter-point rate cut, which futures had fully priced in for weeks, slipped to reflect a small chance of no change. Helping fuel the move, top European Central Bank officials questioned the quantitative-easing plan unveiled Thursday. Yields climbed across developed markets: In Japan, the 10-year rate had its biggest intraday jump in more than year.

“Central banks are looking at how much effect they are having by continuing to lower rates,” said Jason Ware, head of institutional trading for 280Securities in San Francisco. “The market may have overshot to the downside and driven yields too low with an overly grim outlook on what’s happening in the economy.”

Traders also pared expectations for how much more the Fed will lower rates this year, and now see less than a half-point of additional easing. At one point last month, the market had priced in almost 70 basis points of further cuts in 2019 as trade friction mounted.

The increase in U.S. 10-year yields spurred a jump in futures volume as the rate exceeded its 50-day average.

As Treasury yields surged, U.S. dollar swap spreads -- the gap between the fixed component of a swap and the matching Treasury yield -- also climbed. That’s typically a sign of paying flows exacerbating moves that support higher yields as big investors look to reduce portfolio duration.

Lack of interest from homeowners to refinance their mortgages in a rising yield environment may be one of the factors that would drive investors to reduce duration by selling Treasuries, or paying in swaps.

In August, Treasuries had their biggest monthly gain since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis and yields tumbled on the back of sliding yields in Europe and concern about the U.S.-China trade war. The magnitude of the rally left the market vulnerable to a sell-off, interest-rate strategists at Morgan Stanley said last week.

(Adds swaps in sixth, seventh paragraphs and strategists in eighth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Edward Bolingbroke.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vivien Lou Chen in San Francisco at vchen1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Purvis at bpurvis@bloomberg.net, Mark Tannenbaum, Elizabeth Stanton

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