February 21, 2018, by Tracy Alloway
No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die
The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield continues to flirt with the 3 percent mark, which may or may not be a line in the sand for investors. Debt prices fell after yesterday’s auction saw the Treasury sell $179 billion of fresh debt at yields not seen since 2008. More supply is on the way and equity markets are still taking their cue from rates, with European stocks down and S&P 500 futures edging lower at 5:34 a.m. Eastern Time.
The Federal Reserve is due to release minutes from its January policy meeting – the last under former Fed Chair Janet Yellen – at 2:00 p.m. today. That means investors may finally get to find out why central bank officials pledged to make “further gradual adjustments” in interest rates as opposed to simply “gradual adjustments” at last month’s gathering.
U.K. jobs day
Sterling fell to as low as 1.392 against the dollar after the U.K. unveiled its latest jobs data. The unemployment rate ticked up from 4.3 percent to 4.4. percent for the three months to December – its first jump in two years – though there were signs of wage growth as average weekly earnings rose 2.5 percent from a year earlier. It’s not shaping up to be a good day for Prime Minister Theresa May: in addition to weak jobs data, she faces pressure from 62 members of her own party who are demanding a clean break from the European Union.
The banking crisis engulfing the tiny nation of Latvia risks turning into a diplomatic incident as Riga points the finger at Moscow. An “externally organized widespread information operation” might be trying to erode public trust in the state before Latvia’s elections in October, the country’s Defense Ministry said. It’s the latest twist in a scandal that’s transfixed the EU and NATO member nation and comes as the U.S. continues to grapple with its own accusations over Russian meddling.
Speaking of which, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has extracted another guilty plea as prosecutors bear down on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Alex van der Zwaan, a former Skadden laywer, admitted in court that he misled investigators about the last time he talked with Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates. The latter is now reportedly considering cooperating with Mueller.