U.S. government debt prices edged higher on Monday as traders sought safety in less-risky assets.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note sank to 2.783 percent, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond slipped to 3.023 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices. Financial markets will close early on Monday due to the Christmas holiday.
Stocks stateside were hit with a steep plunge Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering its worst week since October 2008, the Nasdaq Composite sliding into a bear market and the S&P 500 not far off falling into bear market territory itself. Futures pointed to marginal gains in equities on Monday.
Concerns around a potential slowdown in global economic growth appeared to intensify following the Federal Reserve’s decision last week to raise interest rates for the fourth time this year. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell signaled at the central bank’s latest monetary policy meeting that it would continue to unwind its balance sheet at the current pace. Some traders worry the Fed may be tightening too fast.
Over the weekend, multiple reports said President Donald Trump had discussed privately the possibility of firing Powell. The U.S. leader has repeatedly criticized the institution over its rate hiking path. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later downplayed those reports, tweeting that Trump said he “never suggested firing” Powell, despite his disagreements with the Fed’s policy tightening.
Meanwhile, the government has been faced with a partial shutdown that will likely last until at least Dec. 27. Congress failed to reach a funding agreement Friday as the president demanded $5 billion for his proposed border wall separating the U.S. and Mexico.
In other political news, Mnuchin on Sunday said he had called the heads of the six largest U.S. banks to assuage fears around the U.S. financial system following the recent slide in equities. A statement from the Treasury Department said Mnuchin would convene a call with Trump’s Working Group on financial markets, a group sometimes referred to as the “Plunge Protection Team.”
On the data front, the Chicago Fed’s national activity index is due to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Elsewhere, $39 billion in three-month Treasury bills, £36 billion in six-month Treasury bills and $40 billion in two-year Treasury notes will be auctioned.