Bond traders have their work cut out for them before they get to the pivotal event for U.S. financial markets this week — Wednesday’s announcement from the Federal Reserve.
The Treasury is about to pack $193 billion of debt sales into Monday and Tuesday. That potentially puts the onus on Wall Street to absorb the deluge if investors are reluctant to choke it down before the central bank’s decision. There is much at stake this week: In addition to a widely expected hike in borrowing costs, officials will also update their projected rate path for 2018 and beyond.
Last week’s emerging-markets turmoil may have made it more likely that bond dealers will be left holding the bag. The 10-year yield flirted with 3 percent at one point before spooked investors piled into the haven of U.S. government debt. It is currently yielding 2.96 percent, making for less appealing auctions at a time when Treasury is ramping up sales to plug growing budget deficits.
“I don’t think that it sets up particularly well,” said Thomas Simons, a money-market economist at Jefferies LLC. “There needs to be more concessions in the auctions, or more than the underlying market dynamics are showing.”
The Treasury Department will issue a combined $68 billion of 3-, 10- and 30-year securities on Monday and Tuesday, $4 billion more than the equivalent round of sales in April. There’s also an estimated $125 billion pile of Treasury bills that’s about to hit the market. The size of the four-week auction will be announced Monday.
Amid all these debt sales, the bond world will get a fresh read on inflation, with a report Tuesday forecast to show consumer prices probably matched the quickest annual pace of increases since 2012.
The extent of investor demand will prove crucial this week. As Treasury increases supply, there are signs that investors aren’t keeping pace, so dealers are taking on that additional debt, Simons said.
In April, for example, dealers took 38.4 percent of the 10-year reopening, the largest share since September.
If the dealers have to continue picking up the slack, it may lead to higher yields as the firms demand compensation for absorbing so much debt, said Gennadiy Goldberg, senior U.S. rates strategist at TD Securities.
“There are certainly concerns of this being a boiling-frog-type of event,” Goldberg said. “You don’t realize the magnitude of these increases until you come in and you’re in boiling water.”
What to Watch This Week
- It’s not all about the Fed: The European Central Bank meets June 14, after officials signaled last week that the bank is about to debate when to stop bond buying; the Bank of Japan also meets, though tightening isn’t on the agenda.
- Geopolitics loom large: All eyes will be on Singapore June 12, where U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
- Here’s the schedule for Treasury auctions
- June 11: $48 billion of three-month bills; $42 billion of six-month bills; $32 billion of three-year notes; and $22 billion of 10-year notes in a reopening
- June 12: Four-week bills; $14 billion of 30-year bonds in a reopening
- The Fed meets in Washington June 12-13, followed by a press conference from Chairman Jerome Powell
- A hike is expected
- June 15 is the deadline for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to publish its final list of Chinese products subject to $50 billion in tariffs
- June 12: Peter Navarro, White House trade adviser, speaks in Washington
- Inflation indicators are a highlight for U.S. economic data
- June 12: NFIB small-business optimism; consumer price index; monthly Treasury budget statement,
- June 13: MBA mortgage applications; producer price index
- June 14: Retail sales; export/import prices; jobless claims; business inventories; Bloomberg consumer comfort
- June 15: Empire manufacturing; industrial production; University of Michigan consumer sentiment; April Treasury International Capital flows