Treasury yields fell sharply Thursday after data showing the U.S. economy contracted in the second quarter heightened recession fears and reinforced ideas the Federal Reserve may slow the pace of rate increases a day after the central bank delivered another outsize hike.
What yields are doing
The yield on the 2-year Treasury note
fell 9.4 basis points to 2.874% at 3 p.m. Eastern, its lowest since July 5. Yields and debt prices move opposite each other.
The 10-year Treasury note yield
fell to 5.1 basis points to 2.68%, its lowest 3 p.m. level since April 7.
The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond
rose 3.8 basis points to 3.038%.
What’s driving the market
The U.S. economy shrank at an annual 0.9% rate in the second quarter, marking the second such decline for gross domestic product in a row and intensifying a debate over whether the U.S. has slipped into, or is heading toward, a recession.
Treasury yields fell Wednesday after the Fed delivered a widely expected 75 basis point increase in the fed-funds rate and signaled more hikes were on the way. Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned that the economy would need to see a period of below-trend growth to rein in red-hot inflation and warned that the path to so-called soft landing for the economy continued to narrow.
Read: Was Fed’s Powell dovish or not? 4 key takeaways from today’s press conference
Powell also said another 75 basis point rise at the Fed’s next policy meeting in September was a possibility but that the central bank would take a meeting-by-meeting approach to future moves, effectively signaling the end of a practice known as forward guidance. Future Fed moves will depend on data, he said.
The yield curve, as measured by the spread between 10- and 2-year yields, remains inverted, with the 2-year rate above the 10-year — a phenomenon that has been a reliable recession warning flag. The inversion, however, was partially unwound after the data as the 2-year yield fell more sharply than longer-dated rates.
Fed-funds futures show traders have priced in a 76% probability of a 50 basis point hike in September and a 24% chance of a 75 basis point move, according to the CME FedWatch tool. Ahead of the GDP data, traders had priced in a 70% chance of a 50 basis point move and a 30% probability of a 75 basis point hike.
Initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 to 256,000 in the week ended July 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated new claims would inch down to 249,000 from last week’s initial estimate of 251,000. The department revised last week’s level to 261,000. That was the highest level since mid-November.
What analysts say
“With weekly jobless claims continuing to edge higher and at 8-month highs, markets appear to be pricing out Fed rate rises beyond the end of this year, with Treasury yields dropping sharply, and the U.S. 10-year yield falling to its lowest level in 3 months,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.
“Given Powell’s comments yesterday that the Fed is data dependent on future rate rises, then further deterioration in the data could well see further declines in U.S. yields.,” he said.