Executive Summary: The narrative has changed and there is little to stand in the way of further Treasury market strength near term. This should lead to US dollar weakness and may be Emerging Market risk asset supportive. Nonetheless, we suspect that Asia will remain driven by concerns that China is tightening which could constrain investor sentiment in this market.
Trading volume-, Treasury issuance- and economic data-risks were no match for short-position unwinding, data reappraisal, and Japanese investor re-entry into the Treasury bond market over the last week. Treasury yields continued their retracement, posting their biggest weekly rally since August. Furthermore, after the worst quarter since 1980, Treasuries have gained around 1% this month, paring 2021 losses to about 3.3%. We may have seen a sell-the-rumor, buy-the-fact market event occur with respect to Treasuries and the better-than-expected March economic data set.
The narrative has changed to one that is Treasury bond supportive. Fixed income markets are discounting lower economic growth and price expectations. Scenarios with a declining growth rate may be increasingly discounted in the Treasury markets. With GDP growth anticipated to tail-off over the next few quarters, sustainable wage growth may not materialize. Meanwhile, supply chain bottlenecks and rising producer prices may negatively impact corporate margins rather than consumer wallets. We elaborate on each of these themes within.
Against this backdrop, there are limited economic announcements which could impact the Treasury market over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Japanese investors may find buying US$ denominated bonds attractive after hedging the currency risk. This may be risk asset supportive going forward. We review this inside.
In the bank credit markets, March’s carry trade outperformance continued to unwind as shorter-duration bonds outperformed during the week. All recent higher coupon outperformers experienced large spread declines. Even the Turkish bank credit curve behaved in a manner consistent with other bonds globally, rather than trade at a discount. We identify the winners and losers.
In China, while the immediate threat of Credit Armageddon may be lower, the ultimate game plan for China Huarong Asset Management is yet to be known. As such, the market may remain skittish while trading opportunities remain amongst the other asset management companies. Please see: China Huarong: Contagion Creates Opportunity for more details.
US banks set a high bar for performance by announcing stellar investment banking and progressively improving core banking results last week. Then they signaled that they anticipate significantly higher interest rates later this year by hitting the market for record breaking amounts. Middle East- and Asia-headquartered banks may lead the headlines next week. Amongst major European names, only Credit Suisse is scheduled to provide final Q1 results on Tuesday, 20 April. For our thoughts, please see: Credit Suisse: Skating on a Thin Layer of Capital.
Market Outlook: Already looking past upcoming spikes in inflation and job creation, the Treasury market is repricing for lower growth and lower rates over a longer time-period. This should be risk asset supportive as the US dollar finally weakens. The risk is that of impotent monetary policy and a constrained fiscal response in a shorter than expected business cycle.