CME Group Inc is attempting to lure retail traders by offering a simplified futures contract that tracks yields. The Micro Treasury Yield futures will rise when Treasury yields increase and fall when they decline.
The contracts will begin trading on Aug. 16 and will come in 2-,5-,10-, and 30-year versions.
It’s a move from CME, whose customers are typically investment professionals, to capitalize on the boom in retail investing. The futures track a simpler metric, rising and falling with yields, rather than looking at the inverse movements of yield and price which can be confusing to those with little experience with fixed income.
The new investment product comes as interest rates remain low while debt in the US balloons. Over the last year, the US budget deficit reached a record $1.9 trillion from October 2020 to April 2021, CME said. At the same time, average daily volume in CME’s US Treasury futures and options grew over 30% year-over-year, which the firm says is a sign of increased hedging and trading activity.
“Our new, smaller yield-based futures are designed for market participants of all sizes who want to gain exposure to, or more precisely hedge against, U.S. Treasury auction issuance,” said Sean Tully, CME global head of financial and OTC products. “These new contracts will complement our existing suite of U.S. Treasury futures and options, and further demonstrate the value of offering cash and futures markets side-by-side.”
Micro 2-Year, Micro 5-Year, Micro 10-Year, and Micro 30-Year Yield futures will be sized at $10 per basis point of yield, and will be cash settled to newly created BrokerTec cash U.S. Treasury benchmarks.
Gold prices jumped Friday after the weak US monthly jobs report tamped down expectations of an interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve, making the metal more attractive to investors looking to buy.
Gold jumped as much as 1.5% to $1,842.59, the highest price since February 10. The surge was set off after the Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls grew by 266,000 last month, well below the estimated gain of 1 million from a Bloomberg survey of economists. Payrolls increased for a fourth consecutive month but the print was the smallest since September.
The poor jobs showing sparked questions about the strength of the US economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and supported the view that the Federal Reserve will keep holding its benchmark interest rates near zero.
“You’re going to see that the labor-market recovery is likely to take a lot longer than anyone was anticipating and that will push off some people’s rate-hike expectations a little bit and that’s positive for gold,” Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, told Insider.
Investors swooped into the bond market after the data, driving yields lower. The 10-year Treasury yield sank to an intraday low of 1.4710% from 1.5610% on Thursday. Lower rates can brighten the appeal of gold as the metal offers no yield.
“This jobs print was a miss of epic proportions and yields reacted with a pretty sharp decline,” Sean Bandazian, an investment analyst at Cornerstone Wealth, told Insider, noting that what has moved gold historically is the level of real interest rates. Real yield refers to the level of the 10-year yield rate minus the rate of inflation.
“The real rate backed down to where it was in February and gold, given its inverse correlation, almost perfectly has moved up to where it was [three months ago],” said Bandazian.
“Gold is 45% correlated with the 10-year Treasury bond. As fears of a Fed tapering recede after the weak employment report … gold is moving higher,” wrote Jay Hatfield, founder and CEO of Infrastructure Capital Advisors.
The 10-year yield, meanwhile, pared its loss. It’s possible that the “excessive reaction this morning” in the bond market triggered stops on the short side of the 10-year bond after the yield dropped below 1.5%, said Bandazian.
US equities traded mixed on Wednesday as stimulus optimism was offset by rising Treasury yields.
Early strength across stock sectors faded after ADP’s monthly employment report showed February job growth handily missing expectations. The US added 117,000 private payrolls last month, according to the report. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg anticipated a 200,000-payroll gain.
The reading signals the labor market is returning to growth after a nearly stagnant winter, but the weaker-than-expected data highlights just how difficult it will be for the economy to recoup millions of lost jobs.
Treasury yields swung higher soon after the report’s release. The move revived concerns of overstretched stock valuations and saw the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite underperform peers.
Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Wednesday:
The modest decline follows similar weakness in Tuesday’s session. Valuation concerns led tech stocks to weigh on major indices. The Nasdaq composite sank the most, tumbling 1.7% into the close.
ADP’s labor-market data overshadowed new optimism around the nation’s fight against the coronavirus. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday afternoon that the US will have enough vaccine doses for every American by the end of May, pulling forward the key forecast by two months.
The news comes as the rate of vaccination nears 2 million doses per day on average, well above the 1.3 million pace seen in the final week of February, according to Bloomberg data.
Democrats, meanwhile, continue to push the president’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal to a Senate vote. The House passed the measure on Saturday, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he aims to bring the bill to the Senate floor by mid-week. Biden ultimately aims to sign the package into law before expanded unemployment benefits lapse in mid-March.
The package is far from a done deal. Democrats are still haggling over some elements of the bill, including the size of a new supplement to unemployment insurance. The party needs all 50 votes to pass the bill through budget reconciliation, making any last-minute changes risky to the vote’s success.
Lyft rose after the company announced it enjoyed the best week for ridership since the start of the pandemic. Wedbush analysts on Tuesday named Lyft and Uber as top recovery plays, since reopening is expected to revive ride activity.
Bitcoin soared above $51,000 after trading as low as $47,118 on Tuesday. The run-up places the popular cryptocurrency at its highest levels since late February, when it tumbled from record highs.
Spot gold sank 1.7%, to $1,708.43, at intraday lows. The US dollar strengthened against Group-of-20 currencies and Treasury yields rose.
Oil prices shot higher amid the Treasury sell-off. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 2.3%, to $61.10 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, jumped 2.4%, to $64.18 per barrel, at intraday highs.
The Treasury market has made it clear: the Federal Reserve is a downer.
Optimism toward the US economic recovery flourished over the past week. Daily COVID-19 case counts fell further from their January peak. Vaccinations continued across the country, hinting the pandemic could fade in just a few months. Economic data beat expectations. And Democrats pushed forward with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal, aiming to accelerate the rebound even more.
And yet, these encouraging developments fueled a sudden shock in the Treasury market.
Investors looking to capitalize on a swift recovery dumped government bonds and pushed cash into riskier assets. The 10-year yield soared as high as 1.614% on Thursday, its highest level since the pandemic first slammed the US. The jump immediately cut into stocks’ appeal and dragged major indexes lower throughout the week.
The narrative behind the move is simple: The increased likelihood of new stimulus juicing the recovery lifted expectations for faster economic growth and inflation. Stronger price growth leads investors to demand higher yields.
Yet the market moved to such an extreme that it now stands in contrast with the Federal Reserve’s own forecast. The central bank has indicated it doesn’t expect inflation to reach its above-2% target until after 2023. The outlook suggests the Fed will hold interest rates near zero through 2023.
The sell-off in Treasurys, however, signals investors are pricing in a rate hike as early as the second half of 2022.
“We’re now getting to the point where the market isn’t necessarily believing what the Fed is telling,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, told Insider. “We’ve now moved to a slightly more concerning ground, where it seems like the Fed’s messaging is not powerful enough.”
Too much of a good thing
Central bank policymakers have so far held their ground. The jump in yields suggests investors are expecting a “robust and ultimately complete recovery,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday. The chair reiterated that the Fed won’t cut down on asset purchases or consider rate hikes until it sees “substantial further progress” toward its inflation and employment targets.
At its core, the sell-off is merely part of the reflation trade, a strategy used to profit from stronger price growth. But the pace at which yields rose is cause for concern, Kathy Bostjancic, head US financial market economist at Oxford Economics, said.
Thursday’s leap was the biggest single-day move since December, and overall bond-market volatility rocketed to its highest since April, according to Bloomberg data. Finally, the gains came despite the Fed continuing to buy at least $80 billion in Treasurys each month.
Since yields serve as the benchmark for the global credit market, a sudden rise can rapidly lift borrowing costs, sending rates for mortgages, car loans, and even utilities higher.
If yields gain too much, too quickly, the price action can be “destabilizing,” Bostjancic said. The shock would come as real unemployment still stands at around 10% and industries hit hardest by the pandemic remain far from full recoveries.
“It could choke off this nascent recovery before it gets going,” she said.
Others aren’t so concerned. Bank of America strategists led by Gonzalo Asis said the trend was less inspired by rate-hike expectations and simply a case of “buying the fundamental dip” before strong economic growth.
There’s room for yields to climb higher still, Bostjancic said. Real yields – nominal yields adjusted for inflation – remain negative, signaling there’s still enough weakness in the economy to warrant parking cash in the safe haven.
Looking back to look ahead
To be sure, this is far from the first time markets have abruptly reacted to tightening fears.
Concerns of premature tightening of monetary policy fueled the now-famous “taper tantrum” of 2013, when investors rapidly dumped Treasurys after the central bank announced it would reduce the pace of its asset purchases, fueling a sudden – albeit temporary – shock to the bond market.
The Fed will likely move first in this case to avoid additional Treasury-market drama, Bank of America economists led by Michelle Meyer said in a Friday note. Updated economic forecasts set to be published after the Federal Open Market Committee’s mid-March meeting should offer some hints at when the Fed’s rate-hike criteria could be reached, the team said.
“The risk, however, is that the Fed won’t have the luxury of waiting for the next meeting and will have to respond to the abrupt market moves in speeches this week,” the economists added.
If the taper tantrum is anything to go by, communication is a difficult balancing act for the central bank. Powell has already said he doesn’t expect any stimulus-fueled jump in inflation to be “large or persistent,” but that commentary did little to calm the sell-off in Treasurys.
Unless the Fed further clarifies its inflation target, investors will remain in the dark as to when tapering could arrive, Shah said.
“There’s so much room for interpretation in terms of how long inflation has to be above 2%, at what level does inflation need to be above 2%,” she said. “That lack of clarity gives the market that room to wonder, ‘what does the Fed actually mean by that?'”