Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shifting focus in the treasury markets

Treasuries once again experienced what amounts to a sharp curve flattening in recent days. The market action resembled what took place after the initial announcement of taper back in December (see post). The yields in the "belly" of the curve have risen sharply as the market prepares for rate "normalization".

Treasury yield moves from close of 3/7/2014 to close of 3/21/2014

MarketWatch: - The yield curve’s violent reaction to the Federal Reserve on Wednesday shouldn’t be thought of as a first-day fluke by Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Rather, the rise of intermediate-term Treasury yields is one step in a monetary policy normalization process that will characterize the rest of the year, according to mammoth investment management firm BlackRock.

If last year was all about longer-duration Treasury yields moving higher — the 10-year Treasury yield rose more than a full percentage point and now trades at 2.78% – this year is all about the rise at the front end of the curve, according to Rick Rieder, chief investment officer of Fundamental Fixed Income for BlackRock.

“I think this is a very different year for managing fixed income,” he said in a press briefing Thursday.
The MarketWatch article proceeds to describe in detail how rates had moved this year vs. last year. It all however comes down to a single chart which shows daily treasury yield volatility across the curve this vs. last year. A picture is worth, well you know...

Market focus is shifting from taper to the near-term trajectory of the overnight rates, which is impacting the intermediate and shorter maturities. The first rate hike, while still some time away, is becoming a reality.
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