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Global Bonds Switch to Rally Mode as Recession Fears Intensify

© Reuters.

(Bloomberg) — A global bond rally extended into Thursday as investors hunted for havens amid a risk-asset rout on concerns a US recession is becoming more likely. 

Benchmark Australian yields tumbled 13 basis points to 3.33%, following a sharp drop overnight in their Treasury equivalents. The 10-year Treasury yield slid about 10 basis points to 2.88% as the S&P 500 slumped 4%, its worst day since June 2020. 

“Having duration as a hedge in a portfolio is becoming more important as the risk of a slowdown in the economy is likely,” said Mark Lindbloom, portfolio manager at Western Asset Management. This year’s rapid climb in Treasury yields means “bonds are back to being attractive relative to other asset classes.”

With the Federal Reserve focused on taming inflation via rate hikes and a shrinking balance sheet beginning in June, bond managers have been adding long-dated Treasuries to their portfolios to take advantage of a flattening yield curve and also as a form of insurance should risk assets fall further. 

The policy-sensitive two-year note’s yield declined only 3 basis points to 2.67%, further narrowing the gap between short- and longer-dated Treasuries. The difference between five- and 10-year yields fell below zero after a short-lived spike to 11 basis points last week from a prior period of inversion. 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell Tuesday said the central bank was prepared to raise the policy rate above neutral if inflation doesn’t moderate in a clear and convincing way, which could entail pain for the economy through a rise in the unemployment rate.

The gains for the long end overnight were also fueled by a strong $17 billion sale of 20-year bonds. The auction drew a yield of 3.290%, the highest since the 20-year tenor was revived in May 2020, but below a pre-auction indicated level of 3.292%, signaling dealers underestimated demand. 

(Updates throughout.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Global Bonds Switch to Rally Mode as Recession Fears Intensify

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