With Dovish FOMC, Bond Yields Fall

January 27, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

What are investors supposed to make of the January FOMC meeting? The verdict was that the 10-0 unanimous vote by Janet Yellen and her Fed presidents was dovish, with the promise that rate hikes would be gradual, with low inflation persisting, with a promise that rates would remain low and on and on. It seems that the message was not universally received as positive. Stocks were down and bond yields were down. The S&P 500 was down 20 points at 1883.50 and the DJIA was down 218 at 15,949 right before the 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time closing bell. Bond prices rose and oil did not match the equities market.

It seems that Treasury buyers are deciding that maybe the growth story is weaker as the economic numbers have been suggesting. Treasury buyers surfaced, sending bond yields lower after the meeting than before. As a reminder, bond yields drop as demand for Treasuries increases – prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Bond buyers had the upper hand after the cautious Fed stance for raising rates ahead. Noting international financial risks and market risks helped the bond buyers think that the Team Yellen wasn’t going to go back on the promise that rates will rise gradually.

The door was left open for a rate hike this March, but if the Fed remains data dependent then the numbers don’t give a great rate hike hope.

Yields on the 2-year Treasury note were roughly 0.841% after the Fed announcement, down from 0.895% right before the Fed announcement.

The 10-year Treasury yield was down to 2.004% late on Wednesday, down from 2.046% shortly before the Fed released its dovish verdict.

Another big view was the 30-year Treasury bond – “The Long Bond!” – with its yield having been 2.823% right before the announcement, and falling down to 2.787% right around 4:00 p.m.

What made matters even more complicated was the oil was up $0.53 at $31.98 for West Texas Intermediate crude oil. Stocks and oil have been very intertwined. That will not last forever, and it did not go step by step on Wednesday.