Friday, 22 June, 2018

Beijing weighs slowing, halting purchases of US Treasuries

The trading floor is seen on the final day of trading for the year at the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan New York   Thomson Reuters The trading floor is seen on the final day of trading for the year at the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan New York Thomson Reuters
Orlando Vargas | 11 January, 2018, 09:31

Benchmark bonds reversed earlier gains on the news, with the yield on 10-year Treasuries climbing for a fifth day.

"If the reports turn out to be true and China no longer sees Treasuries as an attractive option, the repercussions could be significant as the country is one of the biggest holders of USA debt", Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA in London, said in a note.

They reportedly also referenced trade tensions with Washington as a reason to lower the pace of debt purchases.

"All of last year there was this fantastic correlation between USA 10-year yields and dollar-yen and people put on what is known as pairs trades", said Greg Anderson, global head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets in NY. "Today's headlines will underscore concerns that the fading global quantitative-easing bid will trigger lasting upside pressure on developed-market yields". It isn't clear whether the officials' recommendations have been adopted.

Longer-term US Treasury yields jumped to near their 2017-highs following a report that Beijing might be looking to slow or stop its purchases of American government debt.

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The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 per cent, or 29.1 points, to 6,067.60.

The fear is that, at a time when the Federal Reserve has started reducing its holdings of US debt (coupled with news that Japan is reducing its Treasury purchases and China might follow suit), there will be less demand for USA debt. "For years they have been bothered by the fact that they are so heavily invested in one particular class of United States bonds, so it's just a question of time before would try to diversify".

Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthhold Group, a money-management firm in Minneapolis, says China is more likely eyeing sales of USA bonds for the same reason investors in the US and elsewhere are: Fear that inflation is on the rise and will erode the value of fixed-income investments.

"If China ceases to be a net purchaser of US Treasuries, this is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall yield curve unless China divests a large share of its total holdings in a short time period", said Rajiv Biswas, Singaporebased chief Asia-Pacific economist at IHS Markit.

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