We talked this week about the way markets are set up for a significant positive perception shift. It’s been led by oil, which had its third consecutive close above $40 today. Yields are another key brick in the foundation that may be laid tomorrow.
As oil prices have been a threat to the global economic and stability outlook over the past few months, yields have also been sending a negative signal to markets. The yield on the German 10-year got very close to the all-time lows this week, inching closer to the zero line (and negative territory). And U.S. 10-year yields, following the Fed’s last meeting, have fallen back from 2% down to as low as 1.68% — just 30 basis points above the all-time low of July 2012, when Europe was on the edge of a sovereign debt blow-up. And remember, this is AFTER the Fed has raised rates for the first time in nine years.
So yields have been signaling an uglier path forward, if not deflation forever in places like Japan and Europe. Of course, the move by Japan to negative interest rates in January was a strong contributor to the perception swoon about the global economy. But a key component in Japan’s move, and in the coordinated actions by central banks over the past two months, has been the threat from the oil price bust. And that is now on the mend. Oil is up 58% from its February low.
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Still, global yields are hanging around at the lows.
Tomorrow we get euro zone and U.S. inflation data. As we’ve said, when expectations and perception has been ratcheted down so dramatically, we can get an asymmetric outcome. Earnings expectations are in the gutter. Economic growth expectations are in the gutter. Same can be said for expectations on the outlook for inflation data. In a normal world, hotter than expected inflation is a bad signal for the risk-taking environment. In our current world, hotter than expected inflation would not be a good signal, it would be a very good signal. It would show the economy has a pulse.
Yields in the two key government bond markets are set up nicely for a bottom on some hotter inflation data.
Here’s a look at German yields…
Source: Billionaire’s Portfolio, Reuters
Tuesday, German yields touched 7.5 basis points. Remember, earlier in the month we talked about what happened the last time German yields were this low.
Bond kings Bill Gross and Jeffrey Gundlach said it was crazy. Bill Gross called the German bund the “short of a lifetime” (short bonds, which equates to a bet that yields go higher). He compared it to the opportunity when George Soros broke the Bank of England and made billions shorting the British pound. Gundlach said it was a trade with almost no upside and unlimited downside.
They were both right. In the chart below you can see the explosive move in German rates (in blue) away from the zero line. In the chart below, you can see the 10-year German bond yields moved from 5 basis points to 106 basis points in less than two months — a 20x move. U.S. 10 year yields (the purple line) moved from 1.72% to 2.49% almost in lock-step.
On the move down on Tuesday, the yield on the German bund reversed sharply and put in a bullish outside day (a key reversal signal). Could it have been the bottom into tomorrow’s inflation data?
Coincidentally, the U.S. 10-year looks like a bottom may be in as well.
Source: Billionaire’s Portfolio, Reuters
U.S. yields have a chance to break this downtrend tomorrow on a hotter inflation number.
As we said yesterday, in addition to oil, these are very important charts for financial markets and for the global economic outlook. A bottom in these yields, as well as the continued recovery in oil will be important for restoring confidence in the global economic outlook.
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