I guess the Ben Bernanke euphoria wore off overnight, but just for bonds. The stock market took off, with both the Dow average and S&P 500 index setting record highs. (NOT adjusted for inflation, as my frequent reader Ed will certainly note.)
TIPS and the overall Treasury market took a minor beating. The 10-year nominal Treasury closed at 2.74%, up 14 basis points in a day and setting the highest yield of the year. The 10-year TIPS closed at 0.48%, up 10 basis points from Wednesday, but still off the year’s high of 0.66%. The 10-year inflation breakeven point nudged up to 2.26%, which I guess qualifies as ‘neutral’ on the expensive/inexpensive meter.
So what happened? The biggest news of the day was the report on unemployment claims, which was good news. From the Reuters report:
Data on weekly U.S. initial jobless claims and national manufacturing came in better than expected. The Institute for Supply Management index of national factory activity for July rose to its highest level since June 2011.
“The talk we’ve been hearing that the second half is going to be better than the first. We saw some follow-through on that … ,” said Brian Amidei, managing director at HighTower Advisors in Palm Desert, California.
The Federal Reserve has two data points it is watching to determine whether to continue its bond buying, which suppresses TIPS yields: 1) the U.S. inflation rate, and 2) the U.S. unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate falls below 7% and inflation rises above 2%, the Fed has a open door to shut down bond buying.
Both 1 and 2 appear likely in coming months. The stock market loves an improving economy and can deal with rising interest rates (to a point). The Treasury bond market has no fear of a bad economy, but gets very freaked out by rising interest rates.
Good news in the economy is going to cause TIPS yields to rise.
Update on this month’s 5-year TIPS reissue. The 5-year TIPS closed today at -0.45%, still well below its high for the year of -0.27%. We could see some movement toward that -0.27% ahead of the auction Thursday, Aug. 22, but right now I am guessing we won’t go higher.
Update thru Friday, August 2. Today’s real Dow close got back to Jan. 2000, see here
first time in 13.5 years!
100.1 closed today
100.0 is mo. avg. for Jan. 2000
103.9 is all time high day close, 1/14/2000
NOTE that QE positive effects on stock prices are commonly believed to have begun in March 2009, when Real Dow was 50-plus (see URL). QE continues, of course.
Today’s Dow close, inflation adjusted, is 99.9 on the scale where Jan. 2000 monthly average = 100. On the same scale, the all time high DAY, Jan. 14, 2000, corresponds to 103.94 (38-plus% inflation since then). NOTE that not adjusting for inflation obscures severe ups & downs, which have the bad-for-business origin opined here by Fed Chairs:
Thanks Ed. It’s important to note the effects of inflation, a subject rarely noted in mainstream media.
Indeed! Here’s my “The Public Be Suckered” http://patrick.net/forum/?p=1223928
I think this is true, and fair:
Economics is an edifice that importantly serves to obscure the omission of inflation-adjustment of asset price histories — because they look like this
which is bad for business!