Bond Traders on Tenterhooks After Whipsaw Week as Fed Looms
Bond traders are turning their focus to next week’s pivotal Federal Reserve meeting after what has been the most volatile five days in US debt markets in more than a decade.
(Bloomberg) -- Bond traders are turning their focus to next week’s pivotal Federal Reserve meeting after what has been the most volatile five days in US debt markets in more than a decade.
US two-year yields have whipsawed at least 20 basis points a day for six straight sessions through Thursday as concern over the global banking system and relief at central bank stabilization measures have kept investors on tenterhooks. Market pricing for the Fed’s March 21-22 meeting has lurched between another quarter-point hike, and the first rate pause in more than a year.
“With the sharp drop in Treasury yields and market pricing out hikes, investors remain on high alert ahead of the FOMC meeting,” Societe Generale SA strategists led by Adam Kurpiel wrote in a note to clients. “Price action in bonds, higher volatility and continued pressure on risky assets show that we are not out of the woods yet.”
The widely watched MOVE index, which measures implied volatility in Treasuries, topped out at 199 points on Wednesday, the highest level since the global financial crisis in 2008, having more than doubled since the end of January. The yield on US two-year notes, seen among the safest global securities, has swung between 3.71% and 4.53% so far this week, the widest weekly range since September 2008.
Read More: Cracks Spread Across US Bond Market as Bank Angst Hits Liquidity
Two-year yields jumped 27 basis points on Thursday alone after the biggest US banks pledged $30 billion of fresh deposits to First Republic Bank to buoy confidence as depositors fled regional lenders. The initiative helped ease concern about potential contagion engulfing US regional banks following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and Silvergate Capital Corp.
US overnight indexed swaps are now pricing for an 80% probability of a quarter-percentage point increase from the Fed next week, up from a coin toss earlier this week.
The big unknown is whether an easing of concerns Thursday will hold into the Fed decision, BMO Capital Market strategists including Ian Lyngen in New York wrote in a note Thursday. “We anticipate that there will be further strains evident throughout markets and the real economy as Fed Chair Powell retains a decidedly restrictive policy stance.”
--With assistance from , and .
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.