Before most Federal Reserve meetings, Treasury traders spend days poring over U.S. data for clues on how officials will lean. This time the bigger story is the Bank of Japan.
The BOJ has become more relevant to some U.S. traders than their own central bank as a Bloomberg survey of economists projects Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda will expand his record stimulus program Friday.
Japan’s negative-interest-rate policy and bond purchases known as quantitative easing have sent most yields below zero, driving a rush for U.S. debt. The Fed will keep its benchmark rate unchanged after its meeting ends Wednesday, another survey shows.
“I would argue that the BOJ this week is much more important than the Fed,” said Aaron Kohli, a fixed-income strategist in New York at BMO Capital Markets Corp., one of the 23 primary dealers that trade with the U.S. central bank. “Traditionally the response to QE has been to see yields sell off,” he said. If that happens in Japan, “Treasuries will probably rally as well.”
The Fed’s latest projections issued in June are for higher interest rates this year, and some of the most recent economic data, including jobs and retail sales, have been stronger than economists forecast. The policy divergence with the BOJ drove Japan’s purchases of overseas debt to a record this month, helping send the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield to an all-time low of 1.32 percent on July 6.
Central bank stimulus may also hold some risk for bonds, said Mark Cabana, a New York-based interest-rate strategist at Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit.
“While further BOJ easing could marginally decrease yields, if that is coupled with fiscal stimulus, that could serve to shift market expectations for higher growth globally,” Cabana said. “That could potentially help support inflation expectations.”
The government is planning a spending program to support the economy.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday that the government will draw up an economic stimulus package worth more than ¥28 trillion, apparently aiming to contain any negative impact from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
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