Treasuries are leading a bull run in global bonds, bringing into sight the prospect of benchmark 10-year yields dropping to 2% for the first time since late 2016 as traders ramp up bets on monetary-policy easing by the U.S. central bank.
Escalating U.S.-China trade tensions and faltering global growth have seen U.S. 10-year yields tumble and the gap between 3-month and 10-year yields — a commonly watched recession indicator — move to levels last seen in 2007. Some market watchers, including strategists at Morgan Stanley, are now warning that the deepening inversion of the yield curve clearly presages an economic downturn.
Fed funds futures show that the market is pricing in about three quarter-point central bank cuts by the end of next year, while the 10-year Treasury yield slumped Wednesday below 2.22%. Yields on similar-dated securities in Australia and New Zealand both dropped to records, while those in Japan matched a three-year low of -0.1%. Equivalent German bund rates slipped to negative 0.18%, within a few basis points of their 2016 low.
"The overarching theme of slower global growth, inflation not hitting the mark of central bank targets, and the uncertainty of a protracted trade war are all contributing to that rally," said Tano Pelosi, portfolio manager in Sydney at Antares Capital, which oversees the equivalent of $22 billion. "I can see U.S. 10-year yields heading toward 2% if the pressure from the trade war continues."
The renewed bout of risk aversion, brought on by President Donald Trump's comment that a deal with China isn't imminent and tensions between Italy and the European Union, reflects increasing bets central banks will cut rates to revive growth. Traders are focusing on a planned meeting between Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group-of-20 summit in June, even as recent rhetoric from both sides indicates a hardening of positions.
Treasury 10-year yields slid as much as 5 basis points Wednesday to about 2.22%, the lowest since September 2017. The spread between U.S. three-month and 10-year yields fell to as low as -13 basis points, the most negative since 2007.