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America’s jobs data tonight: Impact on bond market rally

Will the figures whack or boost the bond market rally that erupted in the wake of what was a not unexpected outcome of the second-to-last Fed meeting of the year on Wednesday afternoon?

Yields on key US Treasury bonds are now back to levels not seen for a month, as the worries, fears, and dramas of the 10-year yield drifting past 5% two weeks ago have been replaced with the whiff of a boom. This has sent yields on the key 10-year security down 27 points (to 4.665%) in one and a quarter days of trading up to early Friday morning dealings in Asia.

In fact, the 10-year yield ended September at 4.57%, peaked at 5.022% in the month, and then slipped to end on the 31st at 4.92% as the Fed started its two-day meeting.

That saw the US dollar weaken (the Aussie is back around 64.35 US cents early Friday morning in Asia).

It all could change if the US jobs figures are wildly too strong – though if they are unusually weak, bond yields will continue to fall – the situation is set up for that right now.

Interest rates and the US Federal Reserve continue to drive markets – we saw that in October when yields on the key 10-year Treasury bond surged to flirt with the 5% level (and briefly top that level), sending share markets lower across the globe.

Wall Street surged again Thursday after Wednesday’s late pick-up, but that is as a result of what is happening to bond yields, not a big driver, though Apple’s weak figures for the September quarter will not be warmly greeted by the market on Friday morning.

That ended on the first day of the new month with a decision that was widely expected – no change to rates – and Jay Powell, the Fed chair, was at pains to make sure investors understood no early cut, and why – because inflation was too high.

So it’s a higher-for-longer monetary policy stance, which has been in place now for several months, and yet it takes ages for investors to accept.

They had ignored similar stances from the European Central Bank, the Bank of Canada (which even hinted at a rate cut in the offing if inflation continues to fall), and the Bank of Japan.

Thursday saw the Bank of England sit on its hands and adopt a similar stance (but that was too late to have much impact in the huge US treasury market because minds had changed the day before after the Fed meeting and Powell’s briefing.

The Bank of Brazil even cut its key rate to a very high 12.25%. It was the third cut in a row, and the country’s key rate is now at its lowest in more than 18 months.

He added a few comments about the strong growth in the economy and left an impression the Fed wasn’t too worried about that, and suddenly the bulls rear their ugly heads, and the yield on the 10-year bond tumbles to 4.74% on Wednesday and to 4.665% in early Asian trading Friday morning.

But in typical, headless chicken style, some US bond investors are now searching for evidence of the first hint of a possible rate cut.

When that hunt proves disappointing, bonds will no doubt sell off again, and yields will rise.

And it confirms that the 5% yield for the 10-year bond is just a figure and nothing else, and its importance depends on how jumpy investors are and the volatility of sentiment.

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