Nothing lasts forever, and maybe that applies to incredibly low interest rates. The pressure remains high against bond prices as October gets off to a start. U.S. Treasury yields have risen in recent days as the investing community is grappling with the thought of higher interest rates. Even less quantitative easing and other metrics are being considered. The inverse relationship between prices and yields translates to one serious issue for bond holders: the value of those bonds they bought before recent days is dropping as yields rise.
Thursday’s Treasury yields have ticked higher ahead of Friday’s key employment report. Concerns are on the rise about the European Central Bank tapering off its monthly bond buying, and maybe even that Japan will ultimately have to begin normalizing their quantitative easing measures. The real issue is of course the actual chances rising for a U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike in December.
Also worth considering is that the price of oil has continued rallying, hitting a three-month high and going back above $50 again. This is lifting inflation expectations, and gold being back down to almost $1,250 per ounce cannot be ignored either. Ahead of the Labor Department’s unemployment and payrolls release this Friday, the weekly jobless claims even managed to come in under 250,000 for the second time in 2016.
So, what’s going on with interest rates? Rates look worrisome if you look at the gain seen in the past month, but things might get even worse if you look at the yields now versus a year ago.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury was above 1.72% late on Thursday morning. Bloomberg showed that this is up about 20 basis points over the past month. A year ago, the 10-year yield is actually 30 basis points lower.
The 30-year Treasury long-bond was last seen with a 2.45% yield. That is up 23 basis points from a month ago, but this is still down 41 basis points from a year ago.
Yields are also marginally higher overseas. 24/7 Wall St. took a look at Europe and Japan, as follows:
- The German 10-year yield is still negative at −0.01%, but that is up 10 basis in the last month — even if it is down 60 basis points from a year ago.
- Germany’s 30-year yield is 0.62%, up 17 basis points in the past month but still down 74 basis points from a year ago.
- The U.K. 10-year gilt yield is 0.87%, up 21 basis points in the past month but down 93 basis points from a year ago.
- The U.K. 30-year gilt yield is now 1.59%, up 29 basis points in the past month but down 93 basis points from a year ago.
- Japan’s 10-year yield is still negative at −0.07%, but that is down four basis points from a month ago and down 39 basis points from a year ago.
- Japan’s 30-year yield is 0.49%, flat of late but down 87 basis points versus a year ago.
The long and short of the matter is that longer-dated Treasury and overseas sovereign yields look like they are starting to rise. What should be of concern is not just that the ticks higher are hurting the value of long-term bonds. The real concern should be how much long-term bond investors stand to lose if current yields rise to where they were a year ago.
If this is not a worry enough for bond investors, then you have to worry about the notion that even those higher yields from a year ago were very low by historical standards.