The bond market's rally is the result of a confluence of factors -
falling yields in Europe, extra demand from pension funds, concerns
among investors about long-term economic demand and technical
factors, including short-covering from those who thought bond yields
were headed higher.
Prices have jumped, pushing the yield on benchmark 10-year U.S.
Treasuries Thursday to 2.422 percent, the lowest since last June,
despite the U.S. Federal Reserve's easing back on its bond-buying
Investors aren't convinced that the Fed is cutting stimulus because
of an impending surge in growth. Instead, they're more worried about
weak economic indicators and a lack of inflation, which could change
in the case of a strong jobs report or data showing price gains.
Since it's far from certain how the jobs data will come in or how
forcefully the ECB will act, the bond market is likely to remain on
David Keeble, global head of interest rates strategy at Credit
Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank in New York, said a decent
jobs report could "remind us that we have to get back to the reality
that the economy is picking up."
Employers are expected to have added 215,000 workers in May,
according to a Reuters poll, following an increase of 288,000 in
April, which was the biggest gain since January 2012.
While the labor market continues to heal, it has not been enough to
jump-start wages, the most potent factor in kindling inflation
"The key is wages moving higher and inflationary expectations
starting to move higher," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at
Prudential Financial, based in Newark, New Jersey.
Expectations that the ECB will announce more aggressive action next
Thursday to boost the euro-zone economy have also helped drive U.S.
and European bond yields down to levels not seen in a year.
Benchmarks in Italy and Spain have dropped dramatically, making U.S.
rates look attractive by comparison.
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Part of the drop in yields stems from investors trying to exit
earlier bets on rising yields. Some bond fund managers were stung by
a bet on lower five-year note yields and higher 10-year yields, a
strategy favored by many hedge funds heading into the year.
"These positions have underperformed so far this year as the yield
curve has flattened and bond yields have fallen," Wells Fargo
analysts wrote in a note.
The bond market's price gains could be far from over, given recent
But if the market's direction reverses and yields move higher, they
could do so in rapid fashion.
"It's like playing a game of Russian roulette with the bond markets
right now," Keeble said. "You know something is going to go 'bang,'
and you just don't know when."
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Jan Paschal)
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