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Bond Report: Treasury yields hold steady after Fed delivers 50 basis rate hike for first time in two decades

Treasury yields moved higher early Wednesday as investors awaited a Federal Reserve decision that’s expected to deliver the largest rate increase since 2000.

What yields are doing

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note

was at 2.98%, versus 2.957% at 3 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

The 2-year Treasury-note yield

was at 2.809%, up from 2.768% on Tuesday afternoon, which was its highest since Dec. 12, 2018.

The 30-year Treasury bond

yielded 3.021% versus 3.006% late Tuesday.

What’s driving the market

It’s all about the Fed. The central bank is expected to raise the fed-funds rate by 50 basis points, or a half percentage point, while outlining its plan to begin shrinking its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet.

The Fed typically moves its benchmark interest rates in quarter-point increments, with its last half-point hike coming in 2000. The outsize move, and investor expectations for more of them in the future, comes as the Fed attempts to rein in inflation running at its hottest since the early 1980s.

See: Fed on track for biggest rate hike since 2000

The Fed will announce its decision at 2 p.m. ET, with Chairman Jerome Powell set to host a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Investors will be looking for clues to the size and scope of future rate increases, including the possibility of a 75 basis point rise, as well as details on plans to shrink the balance sheet.

Read: Will Fed rate hike be a ‘clearing event’ for battered U.S. stock market? What investors are watching for on Wednesday

It’s a busy day on the U.S. economic calendar. Data released Wednesday showed that private-sector payrolls rose by 247,000 in April amid signs of a slowing labor market, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a gain of 390,000 jobs.

The U.S. trade deficit jumped 22.3% to a record $109.8 billion in March.

What analysts say

“It won’t be easy for Powell and his colleagues to surpass market expectations. The bar has been set quite high with more than 200 basis points of rate hikes priced in by September,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note.

“Going any faster than this could snap something — whether it’s the bond market, housing market, or a stock market swimming in leverage. The Fed wants to avoid panic,” the analyst wrote.

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