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Treasury Yields Continue To Move Higher

By Marc ChandlerForexJan 10, 2022 06:14AM ET
www.investing.com/analysis/treasury-yields-continue-to-move-higher-200614166
Treasury Yields Continue To Move Higher
By Marc Chandler   |  Jan 10, 2022 06:14AM ET
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The new week does not mean new forces. The dollar was recouping some of what it lost ahead of the weekend after the disappointing US jobs growth, but yields continued to rise and many risk assets, equities and crypto continued to struggle.

Asia Pacific equities were mixed. With Tokyo closed, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and India advanced. Last week the MSCI regional benchmark fell almost 0.5%. Europe's Stoxx 600 was off for a third session. Only energy and financials were advancing. US futures were slipping lower.

Meanwhile, the US10-year yield was firmer near 1.78%. European yields were easing after starting higher. Australian and New Zealand bonds played catch-up and rose six basis points.

The US dollar was mixed but mostly firmer. The euro and Swedish krona were the heaviest as the pre-weekend gains were pared. The Australian and Canadian dollars and Norwegian krone were the most resilient. Russia and Turkey led some emerging market currencies higher, while the euro seemed to be a drag on central European currencies. Still, the JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index, which rose by 0.2% last week was slightly firmer today.

Gold was knocking on resistance near $1800. Oil was little changed with the February WTI around $79. Iron ore fell 1.6% to pare last week's 5.4% advance. Copper was higher for the second session. It snapped a four-week advance last week, falling 1.2%. US natural gas gapped higher after jumped more than 2% before the weekend as a cold wave hit the northern part of the country and parts of Canada. Europe's natural gas prices jumped 28% last week and were tacking on another 5% today.

Asia Pacific

Japanese markets were closed for Coming-of-Age Day. There are two highlights this week. In terms, of data, the November current account stands out. The November balance has deteriorated compared with October for the past 14 years. With the current account comes the monthly portfolio flows.

We already know from the weekly MOF data that Japanese investors were small buyers of foreign bonds and larger sellers of foreign equities. For their part, foreigners bought Japanese bonds for the first time in three months. On the other hand, they were small sellers of Japanese stocks after having stepped up their purchases in October.

The monthly data, unlike the weekly data, provides a country breakdown. The second highlight of the week is the Economic Watchers survey (December) ahead of next week's BOJ meeting. The BOJ may downgrade its growth assessment while tweaking higher its inflation outlook.

China may report its lending figures and trade figures, but the highlight will be December CPI and PPI first thing Wednesday morning in Beijing. The CPI is expected to soften slightly, as may PPI. If true, it may boost ideas that the PBOC will ease policy before the end of the month and the start of the week-long Lunar New Year celebration beginning Jan. 31.

Chinese aggregate financing slowed in 2021 from a monthly average of a little more than CNY3 trillion in the first 11 months of 2020 to about CNY2.64 trillion last year. Chinese officials have urged the state-owned banks to continue to lend to the distressed property market. Also, local governments reportedly began tapping this year's borrowing quotas at the end of last year. Recall too that on Dec. 15, the PBOC cut the reserve requirements, ostensibly freeing up CNY1.2 trillion into the banking system.

Did it lead to new lending? The PBOC could cut reserve requirements again and/or it may cut the one-year medium-term lending facility from the 2.95% since April 2020. China's trade surplus is expected to have grown in dollar terms, after falling in November ($74.5 bln vs. $71.7 bln). However, in yuan terms, it may have eased for the second consecutive month.

The dollar was confined to about a 30-pip range above JPY115.55. It continued to hold above the breakout from early last week above last year's highs. There was an option for about $600 mln at JPY116 that rolled off today. The price action over the last few days could be a bullish flag or pennant formation. A move above the previous day's high may be the signal that the pattern was complete. The pre-weekend high was about JPY116.05.

The Australian dollar recovered smartly before the weekend, rising from around $0.7130 to almost $0.7190. It was flirting with $0.7200. Resistance was seen near $0.7220. The greenback firmed against the Chinese yuan last Thursday. It gave a little back before the weekend and was giving back a little more today. It was holding above last week's low (~CNY6.3640). The PBOC set the dollar's reference rate at CNY6.3653, while the market (Bloomberg survey median) was for about CNY6.3635.

Europe

A SkyNews/YouGov poll was problematic for UK Prime Minister Johnson. It showed that nearly half of Tory members think that Chancellor Sunak would be a better leader and could lead the party better than Johnson in the next election. Nearly a third think he should resign. This is not a coup de grace, but it would seem to hasten the likelihood that Johnson reshuffles his cabinet to see if somewhat fresh slate can be had.

Meanwhile, the UK's Brexit negotiator resigned last month, and Foreign Secretary Truss takes over. Talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol resume this week. The government's position does not appear to have changed, and Truss reiterated that Article 16 will be invoked if the EU does not compromise further.

Germany will be the first G7 country to provide an estimate of Q4 GDP. At the end of the week, it will announce the full year's growth, which the Q4 pace will be extrapolated. Recall that in Q1 21, Europe's biggest economy contracted by 1.9% (quarter-over-quarter) and recouped in Q2. In Q3, it recorded 1.7% growth.

The economy may have expanded by around 0.5%, but the risk is on the downside, especially after last week's report of much weaker than expected November industrial production (-0.2% rather than 1.0% forecasts, and the October gain was shaved to 2.4% from 2.8%). The November trade surplus was also a bit smaller than expected.

As a potential weight on the euro, which was trading at in the upper part of the $1.12-$1.14 trading range, what seemed like the likelihood of Russia's grab for more of Ukraine seemed under appreciated. There are three different sets of security talks with Russia this week. It begins with today’s bilateral meeting with the US, followed by NATO and then the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

It was telling that there has yet to be a seat at the negotiations for the European Commission, which seemed to highlight the split in Europe between economics and security. Most observers agreed that the US and NATO cannot accede to Putin's key demands, which were tantamount to conceding a sphere of influence (and arguably more) that the Soviet Union had in many key respects.

Without assurances, for example, the Ukraine and Georgia will never be allowed to join NATO. Putin, previously head of the KGB, cannot feel Russia is secure. The talk of room to compromise on how troops were deployed, or a new intermediate missile agreement were nice but did not appear to be the crux of the matter.

The euro appeared vulnerable. It was at the upper end of the $1.12-$1.14 trading range. The threat of Russian action was not imminent but close. The US 2-year premium over Germany continued to edge higher. The market was pricing in an even more aggressive Fed. Support was forged in the $1.1275 area, where options for nearly 930 mln euros expired today.

The next area of support was about half of a cent lower, and we imagined it would be tested by the middle of the week when the US reports what was expected to be another tick up in CPI, which may prompt more participants to expect four rather than three hikes this year. The high today was about $1.1360 and there was another set of options at $1.1350 for 550 mln euros that also expired today.

Sterling continued to hover near two-month highs around $1.3600. The data highlight of the week, November monthly GDP and the details may be too dated, given the disruption caused by Omicron, to drive sterling, perhaps leaving it at the mercy of broader dollar developments.

There was an option today that expired at $1.3610 for about GBP305 mln. Meanwhile, sterling was trading at its best level against the euro since February 2020. The euro was around GBP0.8535. Recall when the pandemic first hit, the euro recorded a low near GBP0.8280. The divergence of monetary policy suggested this will likely be taken out.

America

The market looked past the disappointing jobs growth from the last month's establishment survey. It was skewed by the seasonal adjustment. The household survey held up considerably better and this saw the unemployment rate slip to 3.9% from 4.0%. While its was below the Fed's long-run neutral rate, the weak participation rate would seem to exaggerate how low it was, and underscored why Fed Chair Powell emphasized several times why there was no single indicator for the labor market as there was for inflation.

Moreover, of the Fed's two mandates, it is mostly concerned with price stability at this juncture. Indeed, the market is pricing in a greater chance of a March hike and a fourth hike this year than before the report.

Harder to quantify than the expectations for the Fed funds rate, the unwinding of the central bank's balance sheet was also becoming more salient. It was there that the markets may focus in the upcoming days. Powell's confirmation hearings in the Senate will be held tomorrow and Brainard on Thursday.

Several Fed presidents speak this week, including three hawks who vote this year (Mester, George, and Bullard). Chicago's Evans also speaks, and like Kashkari from Minnesota, are on the dovish side, which in the current context, may mean two hikes this year.

Although many high-profile economists, including Summers and Dudley argue that the Fed was behind the inflation curve, we suspect that as the Fed "catches up," the next meme could be choking off growth. Fiscal policy will be less support. The "excess savings" were being absorbed as pent-up consumption runs its course. Financial conditions were already tightening. This could be the second half story.

Canada has a light economic calendar this week, but last Friday's employment report set the stage. Canada grew 122k full-time positions. Around half of them may have been accounted for by a shift from part-time to full-time. The data were sufficient to persuade the market that the Bank of Canada will hike rates at both its March and April meetings. The swaps market had 137 bp of tightening discounted over the next 12 months. 

Mexico also has a sparse economic calendar this week. The main feature will be November industrial output tomorrow. A small rise is expected. Despite concerns over AMLO's energy sector reforms in a nationalistic direction, and the cutting of oil exports, the peso has been one of the markets' favorites in the past couple of months. The swaps markets have 230 bp of tightening priced in over the next year, of which 75 bp was expected here in Q1. The first meeting is Feb. 10.

The highlight of the week for Brazil is tomorrow's IPCA inflation. The year-over-year pace is expected to ease for the first time since May 2020. It would support ideas that the peak of price pressures may be at hand. Ostensibly this would impact the outlook for the rate trajectory and may make the 300 bp of tightening in the swaps market look at bit exaggerated.

The US dollar approached CAD1.26. It has not traded below there since mid-November. That area may also be the neckline of a head and shoulders pattern, which if valid, may project toward CAD1.2250. To put that potential objective in context, consider that last October/November, the greenback briefly traded below CAD1.2300, while last year's low was set in May/June near CAD1.20.

The US dollar was also trading heavily against the Mexican peso. It was near two-month lows and was a little above the low set on New Year's Eve, which was around MXN20.3270. Below there was the 200-day moving average (~MXN20.27). Note that speculators in the futures market have their nearly smallest net short peso position since the middle of last year.

Treasury Yields Continue To Move Higher
 

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Treasury Yields Continue To Move Higher

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