The US bond market was hit by a fresh round of selling pressure after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank remains prepared to push interest rates higher and keep them elevated if needed to keep reining in inflation.
(Bloomberg) — The US bond market was hit by a fresh round of selling pressure after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank remains prepared to push interest rates higher and keep them elevated if needed to keep reining in inflation.
While Treasuries were little changed during Powell’s long-awaited speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, yields pushed up after it concluded and the hawkish message appeared to sink in.
The yield on two-year Treasuries, which are highly sensitive to the Fed’s policy shifts, rose a much as 7 basis points to 5.09%, just short of July’s 5.12% peak, before paring the advance. The 10-year yield was unchanged at 4.24% late in New York, having briefly touched 4.28% earlier.
The five-year real — or inflation adjusted — yield rose beyond 2.26% after Powell spoke, hitting the highest level since 2008 and signaling that investors expect credit conditions to remain tight.
The moves were relatively muted, given the recently volatility in the bond market. But they underscored the growing conviction that the Fed is likely to keep monetary policy tight to prevent the resilient economy from reigniting inflation.
“What did stand out from Powell’s speech was the reference to above-trend growth and the labor market,” said Kevin Flanagan, head of fixed income strategy at WisdomTree. “And if the jobs numbers continue to come in as they have, another rate hike is on the cards.”
Futures traders are pricing in a roughly two-thirds chance that the central bank will raise its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point in November after a likely pause at its meeting next month.
Ed Al-Hussainy, rates strategist at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said that’s setting the stage for further pressure on shorter-dated Treasuries, with recent data likely to lead policymakers to mark up their forecasts at the September meeting. “That means the two-year is higher,” he said.
Powell’s speech came on the heels of a downturn in the bond market this month, when long-term rates rose sharply as expectations of a recession receded.
Yields initially dipped as Powell spoke, then began heading higher as he stuck to a hawkish tone. “Two percent is and will remain our inflation target,” said Powell. The Fed’s prefered inflation gauge rose at a 3% pace in June.
Powell also indicated that the Fed’s views remain in flux with respect to its neutral rate, the level that’s seen as neither stimulative or constraining to economic growth.
Both nominal and inflation-adjusted Treasury yields have risen sharply this month as the market has priced in a higher long-run rate beyond the roughly 2.5% that policymakers currently consider neutral.
“The 2% inflation target is firm, there is a tightening bias,” said Jan Nevruzi, US rates strategist at NatWest Markets. Powell’s tone implies the Fed “won’t necessarily hike at every meeting, but also doesn’t mean they see the cycle as definitively over.”
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.