Bond market retracement improves the market mood


The market gets a handle on what happened yesterday

The market gets a handle on what happened yesterday

US 10-year yields are down 6 bps today after yesterday’s washout. The curve is flattening again but only modestly and that’s giving broader sentiment a lift. US equity futures are now higher after falling by 1% overnight and commodity currency buyers are dipping their toes in.

I wrote about the role of convexity hedging yesterday and that’s getting a wider airing today and helping the market get comfortable with what happened.

The forced sellers are investors in the $7 trillion mortgage-backed
bond market. Their problem is that when Treasury yields — which
strongly influence home-loan rates — suddenly rise sharply, many
Americans lose interest in refinancing their old mortgages. A reduced
stream of refinancings means mortgage-bond investors are left waiting
for longer to collect payments on their investments. The longer the
wait, the more financial pain they feel as they watch market rates climb higher without being able to take advantage of them.

Their
answer: unload the Treasury bonds they hold with long maturities or
adjust derivatives positions — a phenomenon known as convexity hedging
— to compensate for the unexpected jump in duration on their mortgage
portfolios. The extra selling just as the market is already weakening
has a history of exacerbating upward moves in Treasury yields —
including during major “convexity events” in 1994 and 2003.

On top of that, the soft auction and strong (inadvertent) dealer takedown led to some dumping of Treasuries in the belly.

The whole move looks a bit like a washout but it’s a delicate situation. There will be more convexity hedging and the market will have to swallow that, perhaps with foreign flows balancing it. If the bond market starts to tilt again, it will take everything with it.

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By Jonathan Prop

Jonathan Prop is an independent financial advisor. He has been working in finance for the last 20 years. After retiring early in his 40s, Jonathan decided to help others get to grip with financial markets, particularly his area of expertise - forex!

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