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The Bond Market Gets a Respite Amid Powell's Views on Deflation

July 2, 2024
minute read

Bond Market and Federal Reserve Prospects

The bond market recently paused its selloff as traders evaluated the likelihood of future Federal Reserve rate cuts, spurred by remarks from Jerome Powell indicating that the US is returning to a disinflationary trajectory. Treasury yields fell across most maturities despite an unexpected rise in job openings, which had previously underscored a labor market slowdown—a key factor for potential Fed easing.

Jerome Powell, the Fed Chair, noted significant progress towards a balanced labor market, with the supply and demand for workers becoming more aligned. He described the job market as strong but appropriately cooling. According to Ian Lyngen of BMO Capital Markets, Powell's comments have been crucial for the direction of yields, emphasizing substantial progress on the inflation front and characterizing risks as more balanced rather than predominantly inflationary.

Treasury 10-year yields decreased by one basis point to 4.45%. The S&P 500 saw fluctuations around 5,480, with Nvidia Corp. declining and Tesla Inc. rallying after surpassing delivery estimates. However, Lennar Corp. and D.R. Horton Inc. experienced drops following Citigroup Inc.'s downgrade due to concerns over a sluggish housing market.

Market Movements and Investor Behavior

Bank of America Corp. reported that its clients exited US equities for the second week in a row, driven by hedge funds, while institutional and retail investors remained net buyers. Clients sold $3.1 billion in US stocks over the five-day period ending June 28, as detailed by quantitative strategists led by Jill Carey Hall.

RBC Capital Markets strategist Lori Calvasina predicts the S&P 500 will reach new heights by year-end, driven by economic strength overshadowing market risks. She increased her year-end target from 5,300 to 5,700, implying a 4% gain from the latest close. Despite this optimism, Calvasina acknowledged potential risks, describing her target increase as a "nervous raise," noting that market valuations and some sentiment metrics might be overextended.

Deutsche Bank AG strategists project a robust 13% rise in US earnings for the second quarter, propelled by growth in megacap and tech stocks. This would mark the sixth consecutive quarter of above-average earnings beats. Nonetheless, the team led by Binky Chadha expects a subdued market reaction as stocks have already

rallied in anticipation of the earnings season.

Comparisons to Historical Market Trends

The remarkable surge in US equities, primarily driven by major technology companies, has sparked comparisons to previous boom-and-bust cycles on Wall Street. However, historical parallels to the dot-com era and other market frenzies seem exaggerated based on past trends.

While the S&P 500 has surged 85% since 2019, despite occasional downturns, this performance is modest compared to major bull runs of the 20th century. For instance, during the last five years of the Internet bubble at the turn of the century, the US stock benchmark soared 220%, and during the Roaring Twenties, it increased by 238% over a similar period, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data.

Outlook and Considerations

The current market dynamics highlight several key aspects:

  1. Federal Reserve's Influence on YieldsJerome Powell's remarks about progress on inflation and labor market balance have significantly impacted Treasury yields. Investors are closely monitoring these developments to gauge the potential for future Fed rate cuts.
  2. Investor Sentiment and Market PredictionsDespite recent market fluctuations and sector-specific downgrades, overall investor sentiment remains cautiously optimistic. Predictions of the S&P 500 reaching new peaks by year-end reflect confidence in underlying economic strength, though there are acknowledged risks related to valuations and market sentiment.
  3. Historical Context of Market PerformanceComparing current market trends to historical bull runs provides perspective. While recent gains are substantial, they are not as extreme as those seen during the dot-com bubble or the Roaring Twenties, suggesting that current market conditions may not be as overheated as some fear.


The bond market's recent pause, influenced by Jerome Powell's comments and ongoing evaluations of the Federal Reserve's policy direction, reflects a complex interplay of factors shaping market sentiment. Investor behavior, market predictions, and historical comparisons all contribute to a nuanced understanding of current market conditions and potential future trends. As always, careful monitoring and analysis are essential for navigating the evolving financial landscape.

Bryan Curtis
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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