Bond yields in the U.K. and U.S. faced a decline on Wednesday following weaker-than-anticipated U.K. inflation figures. This development has bolstered hopes among investors for easing price pressures and potential interest rate cuts by central banks.
Key Movements in Bond Yields
- The 2-year Treasury yield (BX:TMUBMUSD02Y) dropped by 5.5 basis points to 4.386%.
- The 10-year Treasury yield (BX:TMUBMUSD10Y) experienced a decrease of 3.7 basis points to 3.895%.
- The 30-year Treasury yield (BX:TMUBMUSD30Y) retreated by 2.5 basis points to 4.017%.
Factors Influencing Market Trends
On Wednesday, government bond yields experienced a decline following a report that revealed a 3.9% annual inflation rate in the UK for November. This figure represents the slowest pace seen in over two years, surprising economists who had foreseen inflation of 4.3% in Britain.
The data from the UK has reinforced the expectations of debt investors that price pressures continue to ease in developed economies. Consequently, these investors believe that central banks will be able to swiftly implement rate cuts in the upcoming year, despite recent statements from several Federal Reserve officials suggesting otherwise.
Meanwhile, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield has fallen below 3.9%, reaching levels not seen since July. Similarly, British gilt yields (BX:TMBMKGB-10Y) with equivalent maturity have also dramatically dropped by 11 basis points to 3.548%, marking their lowest point since April. This decline reflects investors' anticipation of further rate cuts by the Bank of England in 2024.
Furthermore, German and Japanese 10-year yields (BX:TMBMKDE-10Y and BX:TMBMKJP-10Y, respectively) have also experienced significant falls. The decline in Japanese yields can be attributed to the Bank of Japan's decision this week to maintain its ultra-loose monetary stance.
The Market Rally Persists
Despite some pushback from officials, the relentless market rally shows no signs of slowing down. Investors remain optimistic that central banks will soon shift towards rate cuts, contributing to the continued confidence in the market.
U.S. Economic Updates
Several key updates are set to be released on Wednesday to provide insight into the state of the U.S. economy. The current account for the third quarter will be announced at 8:30 a.m. This will be followed by November's existing home sales and December's consumer confidence report, both of which will be released at 10 a.m. (all times Eastern).
U.S. Treasury Bond Auction
At 1 p.m., the U.S. Treasury will hold an auction for $13 billion worth of 20-year bonds. This event is closely watched by market participants and can have an impact on interest rates and market sentiment.
Market Expectations and Rate Cut Probability
According to the CME FedWatch tool, there is an 87.6% chance that the Federal Reserve will maintain interest rates at their current range of 5.25% to 5.50% after their next meeting on January 31st. However, there is a growing expectation of at least a 25 basis point rate cut at the subsequent meeting in March, with the probability currently set at 80.8%. This is a significant increase from just a month ago when the probability was at 27%.
Inflation Forecasts and Rate Cut Outlook
The analysts at Morgan Stanley, led by chief U.S. economist Ellen Zentner, caution that market expectations for a rate cut in March may be overdone. Their inflation forecasts indicate a rise in inflation over the next two months, suggesting that a rate cut may not be necessary. According to their analysis, a rate cut would require nonfarm payrolls of less than 50k in February and core Consumer Price Index (CPI) below 0.2% month-to-month.
The team at Morgan Stanley believes that it will likely take until June for the Federal Reserve to have sufficient evidence of inflation returning to their 2% target before considering rate cuts. They emphasize the need for clear and convincing data to support such a decision.