Speculators Ramp Up Long Positions Across Long-bond Futures (10 Year Treasury Term Premia Remains Negative)

Sacre bleu! There was a weak French debt auction that is causing contagion with the US Treasury market.

(Bloomberg) — Hedge funds that built up bullish long-end Treasury wagers to the highest outright level since 2008 are rushing for the exit as a government bond rout that started in Europe following a weak French debt auction is spreading to the U.S. market.

This may be just the beginning according to DoubleLine Capital’s Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Gundlach and positioning data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Thirty-year yields surged as much as seven basis points Thursday to 2.92 percent, breaching both 50- and 200-day moving averages. Open interest in September long-bond futures has dropped by around $3.7 million since June 28 in dollar-value per basis point move, or DV01, terms, a sign bulls are starting to liquidate positions in the sector. Speculators in recent weeks were the most bullish on 30-year Treasury futures on a net basis this year, according to CFTC data.

With a Federal Reserve seemingly committed to raising interest rates a third time this year and speculation the European Central Bank could announce a tapering of bond purchases by the end of the year, the fundamentals aren’t encouraging. As yields are now approaching key technical marks that could trigger a fresh flush out of long-end bulls, the risk is building that Treasury yields go even higher.

Ten-year Treasury yields are on course to move “toward 3 percent” this year, Gundlach said in an emailed response to questions. There has “been no justification for the divergent policies in the U.S. versus Europe given economic fundamentals,” he said – a point he has made previously.

A 10-year yield at 3 percent would put Treasuries in “definitive” bear market territory, Gundlach added. The yield traded as high as 2.39 percent Thursday, just ahead of a key retracement level at 2.42 percent, coinciding with the May high.

“People this year had been buying long-dated Treasuries and other sovereigns as the hedge to their equity portfolios and that’s why this unwind is so ugly,” said Peter Tchir, head of macro strategy at Brean Capital LLC. “They are losing money on both the equity and debt side now, and are bailing out of their long-dated Treasuries.”

Thirty-year yields now sit just five basis points shy of their 100-day moving average, and a breach could prompt a renewed wave of selling. Curve positioning may also fuel liquidation in the long end as traders start to unwind overcrowded flattener trades. The spread between five- and 30-year yields is hovering near 95 basis points, near the narrowest since 2007.

And the US Treasury 10 year term premia, which compensates investors in long-term bonds for interest rate risk, remains in negative territory.

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