Investor Alert

New York Markets Open in:

Bond Report

May 19, 2022, 4:33 p.m. EDT

10-, 30-year Treasury yields hit lowest levels in a week as investors seek safety in government bonds

By Vivien Lou Chen and William Watts

Investors flocked to Treasurys on Thursday, driving the 10- and 30-year yields to one-week lows, amid a continued stock selloff on stagflation fears that deepened this year’s double-digit losses for all three major indexes.

What are yields doing

  • The 2-year Treasury note yield (XTUP:BX:TMUBMUSD02Y) declined 5.6 basis points to 2.611% from 2.667% Wednesday afternoon. It was the largest one-day decline in a week.

  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury note BX:TMUBMUSD10Y fell 3 basis points to 2.854% from 2.884% at 3 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

  • The 30-year Treasury bond yield (XTUP:BX:TMUBMUSD30Y) slipped less than 1 basis point to 3.065% from 3.07% late Wednesday.

  • It was the lowest levels for the 10- and 30-year rates since May 12, based on 3 p.m. levels, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

What’s driving the market

Global equities slid Thursday and U.S. stock indexes finished lower, extending Wednesday’s brutal selloff that left the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) down by 1,164.52 points, or 3.6%, and the S&P 500 (S&P:SPX) lower by 4% —- their biggest one-day declines since June 11, 2020.

Growing fears of a stagflationary environment —- a combination of persistent inflation and stagnant economic growth — continued to reverberate in markets on Thursday, a day after disappointing results from retailer Target Corp . (NYS:TGT) showed rising costs cutting more deeply into profits than many expected.

See: Next big shoe to drop in financial markets: Inflation that fails to respond to Fed rate hikes

In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Kansas City Fed President Esther George said the “rough week in the equity markets” doesn’t alter her support for half-point interest-rate hikes to cool inflation.Data released on Thursday showed that initial jobless claims rose to a four-month high of 218,000 last week, but most of the increase appeared tied to just a few states such as Kentucky and California. Claims had been expected to come in at a seasonally adjusted 200,000 for the week that ended May 14, according to economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index fell sharply to 2.6 in May from 17.6 in the prior month, the lowest level of activity in two years. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 15 reading. Nonetheless, any reading above zero still indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. Existing home sales dropped for a third straight month in April, falling 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million.

What analysts are saying

“Investors have become increasingly concerned the market is overtightening for the Fed before the Committee has even brought rates back to neutral,” said BMO Capital Markets strategists Ian Lyngen and Ben Jeffery.

“At the end of the day, the simple characterization of the price action of the last couple weeks is that the market is testing the Fed’s resolve,” they wrote in a note. “A more cynical interpretation would be investors are attempting to call the Fed’s bluff, although we’re less convinced of this narrative.”“Whether this is ‘the’ moment that an equity correction undermines the wealth effect is a moot point,” Lygen and Jeffery said. “If it isn’t now, this episode will linger in the background as an inhibition to going all-in on stocks as policy becomes restrictive.”

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.