Are US Rates Going Higher?

The 10-Year US Bond yield is moving higher.  This is important because it has a knock-on effect in the capital markets and so Australian Bank funding costs, potentially putting upward pressure on mortgage rates.

Whilst the US Mortgage rates were only moderately higher today, the move was enough to officially bring them to the highest levels since the (Northern) Spring of 2017.

So this piece from Moody’s is interesting.  Is the markets view that rates won’t go higher credible?

Earnings-sensitive securities have thrived thus far in 2018. Not only was the market value of U.S. common stock recently up by 4.5% since year-end 2017, but a composite high-yield bond spread narrowed by 23 basis points to 336 bp. The latter brings attention to how the accompanying composite speculative-grade bond yield fell from year-end 2017’s 5.82% to a recent 5.72% despite the 5-year Treasury yield’s increase from 2.21% to 2.39%, respectively.

Thus, the latest climb by the 10-year Treasury yield from year-end 2017’s 2.41% to a recent 2.62% is largely in response to the upwardly revised outlook for real returns that are implicit to the equity rally and the drop by the speculative-grade bond yield. The 10-year Treasury yield is likely to continue to trend higher until equity prices stagnate, the high-yield bond spread widens, interest-sensitive spending softens, and the industrial metals price index establishes a recurring slide. In view of how the PHLX index of housing sector share prices has risen by 4.5% thus far in 2018, investors sense that home sales will grow despite the forthcoming rise by mortgage yields.

Moreover, increased confidence in the timely servicing of home mortgage debt has narrowed the gap between the 30-year mortgage yield and its 10-year Treasury yield benchmark from the 172 bp of a year earlier to a recent 152 bp. The latter is the narrowest such difference since the 150 bp of January 2014, which roughly coincided with a peaking of the 10-year Treasury yield amid 2013-2014’s taper tantrum.

Do suppliers of credit to the high-yield bond market and mortgage market correctly sense an impending top for benchmark Treasury yields? If they are wrong and the 10-year Treasury yield quickly climbs above its 2.71% average of the six-months-ended March 2014, they will regret having acquiesced to the atypically thin spreads of mid-January 2018.

Author: Martin North

Martin North is the Principal of Digital Finance Analytics

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