The world’s benchmark borrowing rate staged its steepest climb of 2020 on Tuesday, but Bank of America Corp.’s Paul Ciana reckons it’ll retrace those steps soon enough, to record lows.
The 10-year Treasury rate rose as much as 9 basis points before steadying around 1.6%, taking momentum from a surge in stocks and decent U.S. manufacturing data. Ciana, a technical rates strategist, says the momentum will be short-lived. The benchmark could bump up to 1.70%, in his view, but that level will be a strong lure for buyers. It’s bound to head south again, targeting 1.25% in the first half of 2020.
Coming into this year, “the bigger risks for the most part seemed to be behind the market,” Ciana said, citing expectations for easing trade tensions and clarity on Brexit. “Now the market is moving ahead to deal with new ones.”
What will crush the market’s optimism on the economic and geopolitical fronts isn’t entirely clear, but there’s no shortage of catalysts, in Ciana’s view. He listed among them the as-yet-unchecked spread of the coronavirus and related risks to China’s growth, and uncertainty over the U.S. election. And he’s not alone in his estimation of the yield’s likely ceiling.
“As long as the China virus situation is hanging over markets, then it would be very difficult for the 10-year yield to trade above 1.70%,” said Tony Farren, managing director at broker-dealer Mischler Financial in Stamford, Connecticut.
It hasn’t been above that level since Jan. 24, when virus concerns were intensifying.
History as Guide
Ciana’s projection for the globe’s benchmark borrowing rate is based on past trading patterns. That approach has paid off before: In December 2018, when the yield averaged around 2.8%, he made a contrarian call that it was headed to 2.3%, and months later correctly predicted a drop to 2.05%. The benchmark bottomed at 1.43% in September last year.His bullish stance now is less jarring given the risks in the market, but it contrasts with the day’s ebullience in stocks, which pushed back toward record highs Tuesday.
The latest sell-off in bonds is consistent with Ciana’s analysis that the market was overbought, and a dip was coming. Nevertheless, a drop to 1.25% would be a solid break below the 10-year’s record low of 1.32% from 2016.
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