U.S. Treasurys saw little movement Wednesday, as investors shunned stocks and other assets perceived as risky on the threat of renewed lockdowns in Europe and a continued surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
What are yields doing?
Yields initially fell as stocks tumbled, but then largely erased the move. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
rose 0.2 basis point to 0.78%%, while the 2-year Treasury yield
fell 0.1 basis point to 0.149%. The 30-year Treasury bond yield
was off 0.1 basis point at 1.57%. Yields and bonds move in opposite directions.
What’s driving the market?
Global equities were under pressure as Germany and France imposed new restrictions on activity to combat a new wave of the coronavirus, while the number of U.S. cases continued to surge.
The number of new daily U.S. cases rose back above 70,000 on Tuesday, after hitting a record above 80,000 at the end of last week. The U.S. has seen a record 500,000 cases over the past week, according to the New York Times. The seven-day average of confirmed new cases hit a record 69,967 on Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
Jitters also remain ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Democratic challenger Joe Biden continues to lead President Donald Trump in the polls, though his advantage has narrowed. Investors fear a contested election result, analysts said.
Data on trade in goods showed the U.S. deficit with the world unexpectedly shrank 4.5% to $79.4 billion in September, a month after hitting a record high. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a small increase in the trade gap to $83.5 billion. The narrower deficit should be a positive for third-quarter gross domestic product, with the Commerce Department set to deliver its first estimate for the period on Thursday.
The Treasury Department auctioned a record $55 billion in 5-year notes
on Wednesday, receiving relatively strong demand.
What are market watchers saying?
“The auction benefited from both from the net concession since last month and from the turnaround in the tone for risk markets since the beginning of the week,” said Thomas Simons, money market economist at Jefferies, in a note.
“Today’s news about renewed lockdown measures being implemented in the EU as well as fears of similar actions being taken in the U.S. will help to support the market through month-end and beyond,” he said.
“It’s telling that one of the biggest drops in the S&P 500 since March was met with less than a 1 basis point decline in 10-year yields, to say nothing of the fact that the VIX broke 40 for the first time since June, with all that implies for tightening aggregate financial conditions,” wrote analysts at BMO Capital Markets, in a note.
“Said differently, Wednesday offered an intriguing dichotomy between a sharp drop in equities which was not commensurately matched by a rally in duration,” they said.