Two weeks from now Americans will head to the polls to vote in what has been billed as “the most important election of our lifetime.” That may be a bit of hyperbole, but it will no doubt be one of the most important – maybe not as important as the previous one in 2016, but certainly a close second.
Since then, there have been some huge changes in the financial markets and the economy, nearly all of them wildly – and demonstrably – positive. CNBC was nice enough to quantify them the other day in this chart, and the numbers are startling.
I’ll just mention a few:
S&P 500: Up 32% since the 2016 election.
Average hourly earnings: Up 5%, to $27.24 from $25.88.
Nonfarm payrolls: up 4.4 million, to 149.5 million from 145.1 million.
Unemployment rate: 3.7%, down from 4.9%.
Consumer confidence: up 37 points, to 138 from 101.
Corporate tax rate: 21%, down from 35%.
Assets held by the Federal Reserve: down 6%, to $4.22 trillion from $4.52 trillion.
Despite the recent dip in the 10-year Treasury note yield back below 3%, don’t count on it staying there. Lately, it seems, the only thing keeping the rate below that level is some sort of international crisis – Italy, North Korea, trade wars, etc. But the basic fundamentals determining that rate – economic growth and supply and demand, in other words – are calling for even higher rates, well above 3%.
On the supply side, more Treasury debt is coming to market all the time, like an incoming tide in the Pacific Ocean. On the demand side, there are fewer buyers – and I mean big buyers. More about that in a minute. At the same time, the economy is growing stronger, which by itself is going to put upward pressure on rates.
In other words, if you’re betting that the 10-year yield is going lower, or will stay around or below 3%, you’re really only holding it as a safe haven. Nothing wrong with that, lots of investors do that. But if you’re hoping to profit when something in the world goes wrong, you may be playing a losing game.
According to a widely reprinted and circulated report in the Wall Street Journal, for the first time since 2000, U.S. government bonds now yield more than all of their developed world counterparts. Looking just at the 10-year security, the yield on the benchmark Treasury note now yields more compared to a record number of countries, and the yield differential between the U.S. government note and its German bund counterpart is its widest in almost 30 years.
Basically, this means that the arguably safest investment available anywhere in the world – the one American business schools still hold up as a “riskless” benchmark – yields way more than most other sovereign debt, including Italy’s, Canada’s and Australia’s – but no, not Greece’s, although they’re not too far off.
On Wednesday morning, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note moved back over 3%. In just the past five years, though, that has only happened twice before, but then only for a day or so. Is this the time the yield breaks 3% and stays there?
The most recent time before Wednesday, of course, was just two weeks ago. On April 24 the yield moved a hair above 3.0%%, then hit 3.03% the next day. It then quickly retreated below the magic number and hasn’t gone above it until now.
Before then, the last time the yield hit 3% – and I mean just – was at the very end of 2013 and the very beginning of 2014. It hovered right at 3% for a few days and then subsequently dropped sharply, eventually falling to well below 2.0% over the next year. The last time the note has been comfortably over 3% and remained there, was back in the summer of 2011.
What is it about that 3% mark that fixates investors – or rather, attracts them? Just like in 2013, that 3% figure seems to serve as a buy signal for investors.
Hello traders everywhere. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield has risen above 3% for the first time since January of 2014, signaling that higher interest rates are ahead for the U.S. bond market as the Federal Reserve is intent on boosting interest rates after keeping them at historically low levels for some time. The yield, the benchmark for everything from U.S. mortgages to dollar bonds in developing nations, climbed as high as 3.0014% in morning trading, before slipping back below 3% to 2.979% in the early afternoon.
As the 10-year yield broke three percent the stock market turned lower with the DOW losing over 1% on the day with the S&P 500 losing .80% and the NASDAQ falling 1.4% as tech is posting heavy losses.
Speaking of tech, the FAANG stocks are all lower on the day with Alphabet leading the way. Alphabet (Google) is posting a loss of over 4.5% on the day after reporting earnings where they made a lot of money, but investors are worried about rising expenses.
The other FAANG members are posting steep losses as well. Facebook declined 3.4%, Amazon 3.8%, Netflix declined 4.2% and Apple is losing just a tad over 1% on the day.