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Explainer-Why is the yield curve flattening and what does it mean?

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November 1, 2021

By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A surge in the yields of short-term U.S. government debt has investors focused on the shape of the Treasury yield curve, where the yield advantage that longer-dated securities usually hold over shorter-dated ones is on track to narrow at its fastest pace since 2011.

Money managers and economists often view a shrinking of the gap between yields on shorter-term Treasuries and those maturing out years – known as yield curve flattening – as a sign of worries over economic growth and uncertainty about monetary policy.

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Here’s a quick primer explaining what a flat yield curve is and how it may reflect investor expectations.

WHAT IS THE U.S. TREASURY YIELD CURVE?

The U.S. Treasury finances federal government budget obligations by issuing various forms of debt. The $14.8 trillion Treasury market includes Treasury bills from one month out to one year, notes from two years to 10 years, as well as 20-and 30-year bonds.

The yield curve plots the yield of all Treasury securities and investors watch its shape to extrapolate market expectations for U.S. growth and monetary policy.

Typically, the curve slopes upwards because investors expect more compensation for taking on the risk that rising inflation will lower the expected return from owning longer-dated bonds. That means a 10-year note will often yield more than a 2-year note because it has a longer duration. Yields move inversely to prices.

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From time to time the yield curve can invert, a phenomenon that is considered bad news for the short-term economic outlook and has presaged past recessions.

WHY IS THE YIELD CURVE FLATTENING NOW?

The Federal Open Market Committee is widely expected to announce at the conclusion of its November monetary policy meeting on Wednesday that it will begin tapering its $120 billion-per-month bond buying program.

While that move has been well-telegraphed to investors, some are starting to worry that surging inflation will force the central bank to unwind its bond buying faster and eventually raise interest rates sooner than investors had expected.

Expectations of sooner-than-expected rate increases have pushed short-term yields higher in recent days. Longer-term ones have fallen in part due to bets that a potentially more hawkish rate policy will successfully tamp down inflation, precluding the need for raising borrowing costs as high as previously projected over the longer term, analysts have said.

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Rate increases can be a weapon against inflation, but they can also slow economic growth by increasing the cost of borrowing for everything from mortgages to car loans.

The Federal Reserve has signaled that it does not expect to raise interest rates until next year and that borrowing costs should rise to at least 1% by the end of 2023 from its current rate of 0 to 0.25%. [L1N2RO2FM]

IS THE ENTIRE YIELD CURVE USUALLY UPWARD SLOPING?

No. Distortions can occur anywhere along the curve without inverting the entire curve. On Thursday the yield on the 20-year bond rose above the 30-year bond.

ARE OTHER COUNTRIES ALSO SEEING FLATTER YIELD CURVES?

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The phenomenon is not confined to the United States. Short-term rates have climbed in Australia, Germany, Canada and other countries where central banks are projected to tighten monetary policies at a faster-than-expected pace.

(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Ira Iosebashvili, Alden Bentley and Sonya Hepinstall)

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U.S. stock futures, oil regain some ground after Omicron battering

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November 29, 2021

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian markets regained a little composure on Monday as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would really derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks.

Oil prices also bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday’s shellacking, while the safe haven yen took a breather after its run higher.

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The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off.

Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, although a South African doctor who had treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild.

“There is a lot we don’t know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more,” said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB.

“Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery.”

Trading was erratic early on Monday but there were signs of stabilisation as S&P 500 futures added 0.8% and Nasdaq futures 0.9%.

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Both indices suffered their sharpest fall in months on Friday with travel and airline stocks hit particularly hard.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.1% but was off early lows. Likewise, Japan’s Nikkei pared early losses to be down 0.9%.

Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures down 11 ticks. The market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks.

Two-year Treasury yields edged up to 0.55%, after falling 14 basis points on Friday in the biggest drop since March last year. Fed fund futures had pushed the first rate rise out by a month or so.

The shift in expectations undermined the U.S. dollar, to the benefit of the safe haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc.

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Early Monday the dollar had steadied somewhat at 113.81 yen, after sliding 1.7% on Friday. The dollar index held at 96.190, after Friday’s 0.7% drop.

The euro paused at $1.1294, following its rally from $1.1203 late last week.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant.

The economic diary is also busy this week with China’s manufacturing PMIs on Tuesday to offer another update on the health of the Asian giant. The U.S. ISM survey of factories is out on Wednesday, ahead of payrolls on Friday.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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In commodity markets, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday.

“The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December,” wrote analyst at ANZ in a note.

“Such headwinds are the reason it’s been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly.”

Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24.

Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce.

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(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Richard Pullin & Shri Navaratnam)

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Nissan Motor to spend $17.6 billion to accelerate electrification

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November 29, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co said on Monday it will spend 2 trillion yen ($17.59 billion) over the next five years to accelerate vehicle electrification as it bets tighter carbon emission restrictions will spur demand for electric cars and hybrids.

Japan’s No. 3 car maker will introduce 23 electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 electric vehicles (EV), and plans to introduce all solid-state batteries by March 2029, it said in a statement.

Nissan’s deeper push into battery-powered cars comes as consumer demand for such vehicles grows in key auto markets such as China and the United States and as its competitors release new electric vehicles.

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Although still only a small portion of vehicles on the road, global electric car registrations in 2020 grew 41% even as the overall car market contracted by almost a sixth, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Nissan, like other Japanese car makers, however, has yet to commit to completely abandoning fossil-fuel vehicles.

At the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow this month, major car makers, including General Motors and Ford Motor Co, signed on to a declaration that committed them to phase out fossil fuel vehicles by 2040.

($1 = 113.7000 yen)

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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Shares of Macau casino operator Suncity suspended -HKEX

Published

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November 29, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd were suspended on Monday after its chief executive was believed to be among 11 people arrested by Macau authorities on Sunday over alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering.

The South China Morning Post reported that Macau police said on Sunday a 47-year-old businessman surnamed Chau was among those arrested. Alvin Chau is head of Suncity.

Suncity could not be reached for comment. Shares of the company last closed at HK$0.255.

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(Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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