Home Economy News Fed’s dovish pivot ‘inertia’ may spell trouble for long-term bonds, BlackRock says

Fed’s dovish pivot ‘inertia’ may spell trouble for long-term bonds, BlackRock says


Fed’s dovish pivot ‘inertia’ may spell trouble for long-term bonds, BlackRock says By Reuters

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Published Mar 21, 2024 04:39PM ET

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The company logo and trading information for BlackRock is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Davide Barbuscia

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Longer-term U.S. Treasuries could be vulnerable if the Federal Reserve’s outlook on interest rate cuts is challenged by stubborn inflation, a portfolio manager at asset management giant BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) said on Thursday.

A majority of Fed officials this week confirmed earlier forecasts for the central bank to deliver three interest rate cuts this year despite stronger-than-expected growth, though only by a thread.

Should inflation remain persistently strong, however, prices for intermediate and longer term bonds could suffer because they do not fully reflect a scenario in which the Fed is forced to keep rates higher for longer, David Rogal, portfolio manager of BlackRock’s Fundamental Fixed Income Group, said in an interview.

“With all the heavy supply and a pretty robust economy, we don’t have any term premium in the curve,” Rogal said, referring to the premium investors ask for the risk of holding long-term paper. “For extending duration out that far on the curve, there should be more compensation.”

Rogal also noted that while Fed officials still expect three rate cuts this year, they projected a slightly slowed rate cut path for the next two years.

Benchmark 10-year yields, which move inversely to prices, declined by nearly three basis points to 4.27% after the Fed’s rate-setting meeting ended on Wednesday. Two-year yields, which more closely reflect monetary policy expectations, dropped by nine basis points to 4.6%.

After hiking rates aggressively to fight inflation, the Fed took a dovish turn in December when it signaled coming rate cuts, but strong economic and inflation data this year have clouded the prospects of a quick return to lower interest rates.

The Fed said on Wednesday policymakers anticipate inflation by the Fed’s targeted measure, the personal consumption expenditures price index, will end this year at 2.4%, but with core PCE inflation, a gauge of underlying inflation pressures, at 2.6%. The forecast for both measures was 2.4% in December.

“It was interesting to me that their inflation forecast rose for 2024 but the policy rate expectation didn’t change,” Rogal said. “I think that just reflects the fact that the Fed has a bit of inertia on its dovish pivot, and I think if we get more bad data on inflation, they will have to adjust.”

Fed’s dovish pivot ‘inertia’ may spell trouble for long-term bonds, BlackRock says

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