Long-dated Treasury yields edged higher again Thursday to two week highs, as two Federal Reserve officials backed a tapering of bond buying sooner rather than later and data showed the U.S. economy grew slightly faster than previously estimated in the second quarter.
New jobless claims also remained near a pandemic low, leading into Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s Jackson Hole speech on Friday.
What yields are doing
The 10-year Treasury note
was yielding 1.363%, compared with 1.342% on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Yields for debt move opposite to price.
The 2-year Treasury note
was yielding 0.250%, versus 0.243% a day ago.
The 30-year Treasury bond
yields 1.965%, compared with 1.958% on Wednesday.
- The 10- and 30-year rates hit their highest since Aug. 12 on Wednesday, based on 3 p.m. levels, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
What’s driving the market?
Ahead of Powell’s Jackson Hole speech tomorrow, two officials indicated that they back the tapering of bond buys sooner rather than later.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George, in an interview with CNBC on Thursday, said “we have made substantial further progress and we can begin to talk about backing off some of that accommodation.” Meanwhile, in a separate interview with the network, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard joined George’s call for starting the taper process soon. He said the economy was “booming.”
Data released Thursday shows the U.S. economy grew a bit faster in the spring than previously estimated, but not enough to change the underlying growth trend as the recovery from the pandemic continues. Gross domestic product, the official scorecard for the U.S. economy, rose at a revised 6.6% annual pace in the second quarter, the government said.
Weekly U.S. jobless benefit claims rose for first time in five weeks to 353,000, but remained near a pandemic low and suggest the economy is still doing pretty well despite a surge in coronavirus cases. Initial jobless claims in the states increased by 4,000 to 353,000 in the week ended Aug. 21, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated new claims would total 350,000.
Yields for long-dated debt have gradually drifted higher ahead of the Jackson Hole event, where Powell is expected to delivery a key speech on Friday, which could provide some guidance on monetary policy plans.
A specific focus will be on any mention of an unwind of the central bank’s monthly purchases of $120 billion in Treasurys and mortage-backed securities that have been in force since the height of the pandemic-induced disruptions to financial markets back in the spring of 2020.
Later today, investors will watch for an auction of $62 billion in 7-year Treasury notes
at 1 p.m. for its impact on yields.
What analysts are saying
“A fair dose of concern ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium is weighing on bond markets. The 10Y UST yield rose for a second day in a row without any data impulses of top-tier relevance,” wrote analysts at UniCredit in a research note dated Thursday.