The 10-year Treasury rose to its highest level since May 2019 on Tuesday as investors weighed remarks from Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard, which indicated an aggressive approach to shrinking the central bank’s balance sheet.
The 10-year Treasury note yield hit a high of 2.562% before settling at 2.55%. The move put the benchmark rate well above its 2-year counterpart, which traded around 2.528%. The 2-year had recently been trading above the 10-year triggering a so-called yield curve inversion.
The yield on the 5-year U.S. government bond moved about 15 basis points higher to 2.7% and the 30-year Treasury yield rose to 2.592%, adding almost 12 basis points. Yields move inversely to prices and 1 basis point is equal to 0.01%.
Brainard, who normally favors easy policy and low rates, said the central bank needs to move quickly to drive down inflation.
“Inflation is much too high and is subject to upside risks,” she said in prepared remarks. “The Committee is prepared to take stronger action if indicators of inflation and inflation expectations indicate that such action is warranted.”
The remarks from Brainard come as the bond market flashes signals of a potential recession.
5-year and 30-year Treasury yields inverted at the beginning of last week for the first time since 2006 and remained inverted during early morning trading Tuesday. 2-year and 10-year Treasury rates, which is the main part of the yield curve watched by investors, flipped on Thursday for the first time since 2019 but reversed course Tuesday.
Yield curve inversions have historically occurred prior to recessions, as investors signal their doubts about the near-term health of the economy by selling out of short-dated bonds in favor of longer-dated debt. There are concerns that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive hiking of interest rates, along with rising inflation, could weigh on economic growth.
Investors awaited minutes from the previous Fed meeting, due out on Wednesday afternoon, for any clues to the central bank’s plan for tightening monetary policy.
Longview Economics CEO Chris Watling told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Tuesday that while the inversion of the yield curve is an indicator of an economic downturn, it is “one of many and it’s really the only one that’s signaling recession risk at the moment and it can be extremely early, up to two years early.”