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Treasury Yields Drift Higher as New York Fed’s Recession Indicator Flashes Warning Sign

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:21 PM
Sam Bourgi
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:21 PM
  • 10-year Treasury yield returns above 1.80%.
  • The Dow and broader U.S. stock market see a narrowing of their trading range.
  • The probability of recession hitting the United States is growing, according to New York Fed.

U.S. government debt yields edged higher on Thursday, as investors sought refuge from a highly volatile stock market amid conflicting reports  over the status of China trade talks .

The health and status of the U.S. economy was under scrutiny after the New York Federal Reserve’s recession indicator flashed a warning sign.

Treasury Yields Edge Higher

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield, which moves inversely with price, reached 1.82% on Thursday for a gain of about 4 basis points. The 30-year Treasury yield hit 2.27%, also gaining 4 basis points.

10 year Treasury yield
Treasury yields stabilize following brutal Tuesday drop. | Chart: CNBC 

The yield curve is still recovering from a 14-basis point drop at the beginning of the month that was triggered by a broad shift away from risk-on assets. At its lowest point on Tuesday, the 10-year Treasury yield fell 14 basis points, its biggest single-day drop in four months.

U.S. stocks traded higher on Thursday, but gave much much of their earlier gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 96 points through early-morning trading before. It would eventually close on a gain of 28.64 points, or 0.1%, at 27,678.12.

Probability of Recession Grows

The U.S. economy remains on the right side of growth at the tail end of 2019, but the pace of expansion has noticeably weakened since the passing of President Trump’s tax cuts. According to ne indicator, the potential for recession 12 months from now is higher than it has been at any point since the 2008 financial crisis.

The odds of recession by August 2020 stands at nearly 38%, according to the New York Federal Reserve Bank. That’s the highest since March 2008, which was roughly one year before the actual recession hit the U.S. economy.

New York Fed recession indicator
The New York Fed’s recession indicator is trekking higher. | Chart: New York Federal Reserve Bank 

Under President Trump, the United States temporarily broke free from the ‘growth recession’ that characterized the post-crisis period. Contrary to what all the pundits and financial media said, Trump’s election in 2016 was a boon to stocks, small businesses and the broader economy. The promise of tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending helped spur the U.S. economy to 3% growth. GDP growth exceeded that critical level four times under the current administration.

Growth has cooled over the past year, a period that saw the United States and China go to battle over tariffs, intellectual property and technology transfers. A manufacturing recession quickly ensued.

Latest PMI figures from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) show the U.S. economy is currently on track to grow between 1.5% and 1.9%, which is below the revised third quarter rate of 2.1%.