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Treasury Yields Jump as Jobs Data Fuels Bets on Bigger Fed Move

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(Bloomberg) — The Treasuries selloff deepened as the monthly jobs report showed wage gains accelerated amid a tight labor market, prompting traders to bolster bets that the Federal Reserve will increase the size of its next interest-rate hike. 

Yields rose across the curve, with the biggest gains seen in shorter-term securities that are highly sensitive to Fed moves. 

The five-year rate climbed 11 basis points to 2.57%, while the three-year benchmark hit a peak near 2.64%. The moves also drove 2-year yields above those on 10-year Treasuries, signaling that traders expect that economic growth will slow as the central bank tightens monetary policy to curb the fastest inflation in four decades. 

Swaps contracts are pricing in around 46 basis points of Fed tightening at its next meeting in May, up from about 44 on Thursday. That shows widespread expectation that policymakers will increase interest rates by half a percentage point at the gathering, which would be its steepest increase since 2000. Around 216 basis points of tightening are priced for the rest of 2022, including the May meeting. 

The Fed raised rates by a quarter percentage point in its first move last month.

“The jobs report could push the Fed towards a 50-basis-points increase at their May meeting,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director of government trading and strategy at Seaport Global, noting the fall in the unemployment rate and the accelerating increase in average hourly earnings.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 431,000 last month after an upwardly revised 750,000 gain in February, the Labor Department report showed. The unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, near its pre-pandemic low, and the labor-force participation rate ticked up. Friday’s report showed average hourly earnings rose 0.4% from February and 5.6% from a year ago, the most since May 2020.

Fed officials, including Chair Jerome Powell, have said in recent weeks that they would support more aggressive monetary policy to curb decades-high inflation, including a possible 50-basis-point hike at the next policy meeting. Central bankers have repeatedly pointed to a strong labor market as one reason that the U.S. economy can handle a series of interest-rate hikes that’s expected to extend into next year.

Some of the inversion to the yield curve may reflect trading positions as much as speculation about slowing growth, with some investors reposition what had been a popular bet during the first quarter that the gap between long- and short-yields would narrow.

“This is a Fed that wants to get out in front of the curve, and that means a very accelerated pace of tightening,” Jeffrey Rosenberg, senior portfolio manager for systematic multi-strategy at BlackRock Inc (NYSE:BLK)., said on Bloomberg Television. 

(Adds analyst comments in graph four.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Treasury Yields Jump as Jobs Data Fuels Bets on Bigger Fed Move

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