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June 13, 2007
Still The Place To Run
Just when you think you have it figured out. From Bloomberg:
Treasurys rallied Wednesday, after recent sell-offs in bond prices sent the benchmark yield to a five-year high, attracting money from investors amid speculation the economy will continue to grow at moderate levels.
The buying spree occurred despite news of a jump in May retail sales, higher- than-expected import prices and a Federal Reserve Beige Book survey of regional economies that depicted an economy with tame inflation and moderate growth.
One explanation for the sudden reversal in the Treasury-yield trend is that there is no explanation required: On a day-to-day basis asset prices rise and asset prices fall. Unless you are one of the relatively few who makes his or her fortune vacuuming up the arbitrage pennies, it really is of no consequence. Still, it's fun (if not particularly productive) to speculate. One line of argument might be that the strong retail sales were really not quite as strong as they seem. From the Wall Street Journal Online:
We do not advise looking at either the very weak April or the robust May result alone, as neither is an accurate representation of underlying consumer spending… While May saw a bounce, the two months together don’t paint a particularly ebullient picture, particularly when looked at excluding large, price-related gains in gasoline purchases. –Joshua Shapiro, MFR, Inc.
But if you don't like that one, the Bloomberg article has plenty more:
"There are lots of rumors out there" to explain the unexpected rally, said
T.J. Marta, fixed income strategist at RBC Capital Markets. "Our rumor is that there was a huge purchase of 30-year notes by an Asian buyer."
After the purchase "a sheep-like mentality" set in, inspiring more buyers to return to the market, Marta said...
Kim Rupert, fixed-income strategist at Action Economics, attributed the day's gains to "an oversold condition."
"We've come a long way in a short time," she said.
Renewed concerns about the deteriorating subprime mortgage market may have spurred some safe-haven buying. BusinessWeek online Wednesday reported that a 10-month-old Bear Stearns Companies Inc. (BSC) hedge fund is down 23% for the year largely due to subprime problems.
That last one is the one that catches my eye, as it reflects a point that seems to prove itself over and over again: When the players get nervous, it's still to the U.S. Treasury market they run.
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