How much is 20 years of extra risk worth? Nothing, at least in Canada.
The yield on Canada’s 10-year government bond briefly rose above the country’s 30-year securities for the first time in more than a decade on Thursday. The shorter-maturity notes have sold off in the past few days, pushing yields above 2.5 per cent for the first time since 2014. Canada is the only developed economy with that part of its yield curve inverted, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The move in Canadian yields reflects broader changes in the U.S. bond market, with U.S. Treasuries getting sold off as traders grapple with surging issuance and a U.S. Federal Reserve that appears intent on boosting rates further. Canada’s 10-year debt typically reacts most whenever bonds sell off, which has contributed to pushing the yield above the 30-year, according to Mark Chandler, Toronto-based head of fixed-income research at RBC Capital Markets.
“There’s been a lot of selling of late, driven in large part by the U.S., that puts pressure on the 10-year sector,” Mr. Chandler said, adding he doesn’t expect that spread to widen much further. “You’re still talking about a handful of basis points here and to get to double digits might be a bit of a stretch.”
As with the Fed, the Bank of Canada is expected to tighten policy further. The BoC, which raised interest rates three times in the past year, sees the economy operating close to potential, with solid growth in demand helping investment and improving labour -market conditions, deputy Governor Lawrence Schembri said on Wednesday.
“Even though we’ve come a long way, it still makes sense for yields to move higher as the basic conditions for normalization of rates are still in place,” Mr. Chandler said.
CIBC Capital Markets, which had a call for the spread between 10-year and 30-year bonds to turn negative, says the move is caused by technical factors as that part of the yield curve “is not a macro curve, it is a flow curve.”
Inverted yields along the full-length of the curve typically portend a recession, which would force policy makers to lower rates in the future.
“Do not fear inversion, it is not signalling anything deleterious about the economy,” wrote Ian Pollick, head of North American rates strategy at CIBC. “Still, this is going to make some people nervous.”