Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 11/25/22

The Federal Reserve released the minutes of their last Open Market Committee meeting at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the afternoon before Thanksgiving. There are a few days on the calendar when liquidity is razor thin and Thanksgiving eve is one of them. The minutes were particularly anticipated as several Fed speakers had recently hinted at reducing the magnitude of the rate hikes going forward. That suspicion was affirmed in the “Participants View” section. The exact quote was “…a substantial majority of participants judged that a slowing in the pace of increase would likely soon be appropriate.” The key words in the quote were “substantial majority.” Remember, committee votes do not need to be unanimous; a simple majority is required, and a substantial majority tells me that they have that. We interpret that statement as the Fed communicating that the December hike will not be 75-basis points, with a 50-basis point hike more likely. The minutes also acknowledged that rate hikes impact the economy with a lag, and they are starting to see evidence of slowing. But any hint of policy action in the New Year was avoided entirely.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 11/18/22

The Federal Reserve has aggressively raised rates this year beginning in March – with 6 consecutive increases in the overnight target rate. The Fed has gone from 0% to 3.75% in eight months and is expected to increase rates another 50bps to 4.25% at its upcoming FOMC meeting on December 14th. Fed Fund futures markets expect a terminal rate of 5.06% by June 2023 – implying another 75bps are in the pipeline over the next six months.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 11/11/22

Finally, a downward bias to the Consumer Price Index! That’s not to say that prices are contracting. In fact, taking it at face value, the inflation numbers are still too high. But the rate of increase is falling, which is welcome news for consumers. Core CPI, the measure that excludes food and energy, rose 6.3% year-over-year, falling from a year-over-year increase of 6.6% last month. On a month-over-month basis the measure rose 0.3%, down from 0.6% last month. That’s a welcome improvement and comes just in time for the Fed.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 11/04/22

The Fed’s well publicized “leak” hinting that the Central Bank would raise the Fed Funds rate by 75 basis points this week, but that another hike of equal magnitude in December meeting was not a certainty proved at least partially correct. The committee did raise rates by 75 basis points and, with it, offered a new sentence to the statement: “In determining the pace of future increases in the target range, the committee will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy…” It was a written acknowledgment that the committee realizes that they have already tightening aggressively and, importantly, policy change works with a lag. However, Chairman Powell’s tone 30 minutes later, at the post-meeting press conference, was decidedly hawkish. We weren’t the only managers to be fooled by the head fake. Bond traders immediately took rates higher. May 2023 Fed Fund futures had rallied to 4.805% on the day of the “leak,” but have since reversed and are closing out the week at 5.12%. Similarly, the 2-year note which traded down to recent low of 4.30% reversed violently and are closing out the week at roughly 4.71%, the high for the year.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 10/28/22

Last week’s Fed leak that they would consider slowing the trajectory of rate hikes at the November 2nd FOMC meeting continued to dominate trading this week. Consensus seems to be developing that the recent softening of economic data will force them to temper their hawkishness and will raise the overnight rate 75 basis points next week and another 50 basis points in December. Reflecting that, the 5-year note fell to 4.06% before closing the week at 4.18%, on the back of a stellar auction on Wednesday. The auction cleared at 4.192%, through the presale when-issued yield of 4.21. The bid to cover rose to 2.48 times versus 2.27 times at the last auction, indicating that demand was high

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 10/21/22

A Wall Street Journal story released this morning suggested the Fed would raise rates by 75 basis points at the November FOMC meeting but would then evaluate the need and magnitude of a December rate hike. The market had been anticipating 75 basis point hike at each of the meetings. As we’ve seen in the past, most notably in June when the Fed leaked that they intended to raise rates by 75 basis points, the Fed will leak their intentions in an effort to prepare the market for a change. Whether it was a deliberate signal or cover for St Louis Fed President Bullard’s ethical gaffe, the market heard it loud and clear. The two-year note fell 14 basis points on the day as did Fed Fund futures. The peak in Fed Fund futures continues to be May 2023.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 10/14/22

There was precious little for the Fed to celebrate this week. The all-important employment report has been relegated to second tier status as the producer and consumer inflation measures take center stage as the most important measure of the Fed’s success, or as is the case in this week’s report, failure. Both measures came in above expectations and didn’t really offer any indication that the rate hikes to date have been successful. The markets reacted mostly as expected. The 30-year bond, after a brief short covering rally on the day of the CPI release is closing the week just a basis point below 4.00%. Similarly, the 2-year note is closing the week at 4.50%. Fed Fund futures reset materially higher, with the May 2023 contract indicating a peak Fed Funds rate of 4.935%.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 10/07/22

Higher rates for longer was the concise message out of the Federal Reserve this week. After an attempt at rallying on Monday, both stock and bond prices rose with quarterly rebalancing and short covering, markets again succumbed to the Fed’s message by the week’s end. The S&P 500 finished up 5.5% higher by Tuesday evening and the yield to maturity on the 2 year US Treasury Note finished lower by 17bps to close October 4th at 4.09%. The rallies were driven in part by the 3rd shot at a narrative that encompasses a central bank on the cusp of slowing the pace of rate hikes.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 09/30/22

Chaos erupted overnight Sunday in the U.K. as investors reacted harshly to announced tax cuts and sent Gilt interest rates soaring. The U.K. is besieged with a similar inflation problem as the rest of the world and the proposed tax would likely worsen rising prices. By Tuesday morning the 10-year note was a full 100 basis points higher in yield before the Bank of England announced that they would intervene and buy Gilts. After all was said and done, the U.K. 10-year ended the week 20 basis points lower at 3.81%, but not before “dinging” the U.K. government’s willingness to fight inflation at whatever cost.

Halyard’s Weekly Wrap – 09/23/22

As was expected, the Fed raised the overnight lending rate corridor by 75 basis points, to 3.0%-3.25% and in decidedly hawkish post-meeting press conference, the Chairman signaled that they are not yet close a peak in the rate. It was communicated that Fed funds would likely end the year at 4.25%. That news rocked the Treasury market with the 2-year note closing the week 32 basis points higher at 4.19%, just off the intraweek high of 4.25%. The yield curve further inverted, closing at a -57 basis points, just a shade below the -75 basis points touched in May 2000.