A little choppy very early this morning; the bond and mortgage markets started a little lower in price, took a quick hit on 8:30 data then just as quickly rebounded to sit lose to unchanged by 9:00 am. The bellwether 10 yr note at 9:00 traded weaker, -11/32 at 3.32% +4 bp (see below for 10:00 prices). 

 

Two key data releases at 8:30; Nov retail sales were stronger than expected, up 0.8% overall and up 1.2% when auto sales are removed. Oct retail sales were revised from +1.2% to +1.7%. Retail sales strong adds to the view that the consumer is beginning to spend more. Pulling against that; early this morning Best Buy came with its earnings that were substantially lower than expected sending its stock price reeling. Also at 8:30 Nov producer price index; it was stronger than expected and added more concern that inflation levels may be increasing. Overall PPI +0.8% and without food and energy +0.3%; yr/yr overall PPI +3.5% less than in Oct, ex food and energy +1.2% yr/yr. 

 

Treasuries remain soft this morning but mortgage prices have managed to trade better. Both markets very oversold as we have been saying for days. Likely the markets will be relatively quiet this morning and into early afternoon prior to the FOMC policy statement at 2:15. Treasuries being pressured a little on the higher PPI, continuing to worry that inflation may be increasing. The more fundamental inflation gauge is due out tomorrow when Nov consumer price index is released. Nov retail sales were also better than expected adding to pressure in the rate markets.

 

At 10:00 Oct business inventories increased 0.7%, less than the 1.1% expected; sales were up 1.4% with an inventory to sales ration at 1.27 months from 1.28 months in Sept. The initial reaction added more pressure on the 10 yr note and mortgage prices slipped a little.

 

Confidence among U.S. small businesses rose in November to the highest level since the recession began three years ago as more companies projected the economy and sales will improve, a private survey found. The National Federation of Independent Business’s optimism index increased to 93.2, the highest since December 2007, from an October reading of 91.7. “It was encouraging to see substantial improvement in expectations for economic performance, critical if spending and hiring are to elevate beyond survival and replacement levels,” William Dunkelberg, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Plans to hire, make capital outlays and invest in inventories all rose, albeit from historically low levels.”

 

Not much is expected from the FOMC meeting today; the Fed isn't about to add to the $600B stimulus at this time, and very likely will face serious resistance next year from the Republican controlled Congress. There are a few key members that want to change the Fed's role and remove its mandate for full employment leaving the Fed's only mandate to control inflation. The present $600B QE 2 has not measured up to what Bernanke wanted, lower interest rates, increasing criticism from Congress and within the Fed itself will likely handcuff Bernanke unless the economy rolls over. Bernanke has said he is concerned that the present recovery may not be "self-sustaining". The point of QE 2 was to reduce interest rates; so far it has failed, the 10 yr note and mortgages since the Nov 3rd announcement of QE 2 have increased 80 basis points. Instead of lowering rates the move increased the view the economy would recover more rapidly and inflation concerns have increased sending rates higher.

 

 


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