Fixed income market: the week ahead
Senior Fixed Income Strategist
Summary: An environment with elevated inflation and low interest rates is not sustainable. Hence, long term yields need to soar to catch up with price pressures. Following last week's ugly 10 and 30-year US Treasury auctions, Wednesday's less popular 20-year bond sale could be a catalyst for more volatility in the long part of the yield curve. In the UK, we expect Gilts to remain volatile as tomorrow's jobs number might put a brake on interest rate hikes expectations for 2022. Yet, a rally could be short-lived as inflation numbers will be released on Wednesday. Chinese real estate junk bonds show signs of recovery as news suggest the government is working on measures to support developers to tap the debt market. Yet, the sector remains in bad shape amid a slump in property investments.
Wednesday's twenty-year US Treasury auction is in focus as it could spark volatility in the long part of the yield curve.
Interest rate hike expectations continue to be a focus as investors keep their eyes on inflation and economic growth. Although central banks on both sides of the Atlantic appear comfortable sticking to their average inflation-targeting frameworks, investors cannot ignore inflation soaring. The US core CPI hit a 30-year high in October. The spike in energy prices has now leaked to fertilizers, thus food. Households, which are now preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, cannot help but look horrified as inflation rates outpace wage growth. Hence, the reason why the Michigan consumer sentiment dropped to a 10-year low this month.
Inflation is now driven by supply-chain disruptions exacerbated by continuous accommodative monetary policies. Hence, investors expect central banks to respond with interest rate hikes to avoid the economy from overheating. As rate hikes expectations advance, yield curves bear flatten as a response.
However, something begins to worry credit markets: it’s becoming clear that an environment with elevated inflation and low interest rates is not sustainable. Many have highlighted that long-term rates remain stable because higher interest rates in the short term might be detrimental to growth in the medium to long term. According to that logic, the yield curve would flatten or even invert as the front part of the yield curve will continue to soar, but long-term yields would barely budge on the prospect that stimulus will shortly be needed for the economy to recover. This idea led many to conclude that the marry goes round continues. If 10-year yields, which are a benchmark for mortgage rates and credit spreads, remain stable, that means that long term borrowings will continue to be cheap.
Yet, last week’s 10-year and 30-year US Treasury auctions sent a troubling message: investors need higher yields across the whole yield curve as inflation keeps rising. A few days after seeing 10-year US yields dropping more than 15bps to 1.41%, yields rose back to 1.56% amid weak demand during the US Treasury auctions. The 20-year tenor is far less popular, suggesting that demand could be even lower than what we saw last week, with the potential to send shockwaves in the long part of the yield curve.
Tomorrow's retail sales will also be in the spotlight; however, they might play a minor role in moving yields.
UK job numbers will provide a compass to understand BOE’s next move.
During the latest Bank of England's meeting, the central bank indicated that it needs more information on the strength of the UK labour market before hiking rates. Wage subsidies ended in September; hence it's critical to see whether that caused unemployment to rise in October. A surprise on the upside in unemployment numbers might lead the market to push back on current rate hike expectations. Despite the recent Gilt rally, investors still expect the BOE to hike four times in 2022, double what is expected in the US. However, a rally might be short-lived as inflation is released on Wednesday and sales figures on Friday.
Overall, we expect Gilts to remain volatile for quite some time. Investors should focus on the Gilt yield curve, which is already inverted between 15 and 30 years. It's in the interest of the BOE to have a steeper yield curve before entering into an interest rate hike cycle to avoid an inversion. Concerning 10-year Gilt yields, they remain in an uptrend. A short-lived rally might see them testing resistance at 0.82%. Still, it's most likely to see them rising above 1% before December's BOE meeting.
China’s economic slowdown is less severe than expected, but the real estate market remains a focus.
The data released from China this morning might also drive sentiment in bonds worldwide this week. In October, consumer spending and Chinese factory activity surprised on the upside, pointing to a less severe economic slowdown than economists were anticipating. However, the slump in property investments and news related to continuous Covid outbreaks are clear signs that it will take longer for the economy to recover fully. Thus, monitoring development relating to the real estate sector crackdown continues to be crucial.
Last week, Chinese real estate junk bonds recovered the most since March 2020 as news spread about the possibility that the government may be working on measures to support developers to tap the debt market. Yet, the sector is not out of the woods, with more than 60% of junk real estate bonds still trading in distressed territory.
The virtual meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping today will also be a focus as markets wonder whether there could be a resolution to the ongoing trading tension.
Monday, the 15th of November
- Japan: GDP Growth (Q3), Industrial Production Final YoY (Sept)
- China: House Price Index (YoY), Industrial Production, Retail Sales, Unemployment Rate (Oct), NBS Press Conference
- Retail Sales (Oct), Unemployment Rate (Oct)
- Eurozone: Balance of Trade
- United States: NY Empire State Manufacturing Index (Nov), 3-month and 6-months Bill Auction
Tuesday, the 16th of November
- Australia: RBA Meeting Minutes, RBA Gov Lowe Speech
- Japan: Tertiary Industry Index (Sep)
- United Kingdom: Employment change, Average Earnings incl. Bonus (Sep) Claimant Count Change (Oct) Unemployment Rate (Sept), 5-year Treasury Gilt Auction
- France: Inflation Rate YoY Final (Oct), IEA Oil Market Report
- China: FDI YTD (Oct)
- Netherlands: GDP Growth Rate
- Italy: Inflation Rate YoY Final (Oct)
- Eurozone: GDP Growth Rate (Q3)
- United States: Retail sales (Oct), Export and Import Prices (Oct), Industrial Production (Oct), Business inventories (Sept), NAHB Housing Market Index, Foreign Bond Investment (Sept), Overall Net Capital Flows (Sept)
Wednesday, the 17th of November
- Japan: Balance of Trade (Oct), Machinery Orders (Sept)
- Australia: Westpac Leading Index (Oct). Wage Price Index (Q3)
- United Kingdom: Inflation Rate (Oct), 10-year Gilt Auction
- Austria: Inflation Rate (Oct)
- South Africa: Inflation Rate
- Italy: Balance of Trade (Sept)
- Eurozone: Inflation rate (Oct)
- Germany: 30-year Bund Auction
- United States: MBA Mortgage Applications, Building Permits (Oct), Housing Start (Oct), 20-year Bond Auction
- Canada: Inflation Rate (Oct)
Thursday, the 18th of November
- Japan: Foreign Bond Investment (Nov)
- Australia: RBA Richards Speech, RBA Ellis Speech
- Netherlands: Unemployment rate
- Eurozone: New Car Registrations (Oct)
- France: 3-year and 5-year BTAN Auction
- Spain: Sells bonds picking maturity from 3-year to 50-year to be confirmed
- Portugal: Economic Activity, Private Consumption
- South Africa: Interest Rate Decision, Building Permits
- Canada: ADP Employment Change, Foreign Securities Purchases
- United States: Continuing Jobless Claims (Nov), Initial Jobless Claims (Nov), Jobless Claims 4-week Average (Nov), Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index (Nov), CB Leading Index (Nov)
Friday, the 19th of November
- Japan: Inflation Rate (Oct)
- United Kingdom: GfK Consumer Confidence (Nov)
- France: Unemployment Rate
- Germany: PPI (Oct)
- United Kingdom: Public Sector Net Borrowing (Oct), Retail Sales (Oct)
- Eurozone: Current Account
- Italy: Industrial Sales, Construction Output
- Canada: New Housing Price Index (Oct), Retail Sales (Sept)
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