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    Vol Picks Up Heading Into Summer

    Abstract:The sun is out, football is coming to somewhere its not been before and markets are hotting up too, as minds have perhaps wandered elsewhere. Equity markets are selling off but for the most part US stock indices remain very close to all-time highs, with the S&P500 recently making a fresh record peak for the eighth time in nine days.

      Yields collapsing

      The real action is taking place in the bond market where recent moves have been pretty extraordinary even by the standards of the recent past. The benchmark US 10-year treasury note yielded 1.25% on Thursday morning, plunging 20 basis points in three days. This “flattening” of the yield curve, where short term rates fall faster than interest rates further out, has dominated bond markets since the US payrolls numbers last Friday.

      The reflation tale has lost momentum in double-quick time with position adjustments being pared back at the worst of times – that is, when macro expectations are being reined in and when market liquidity is drying up ahead of the summer. Essentially, we are seeing a recalibration of inflation expectations in the wake of the supposed Feds hawkish pivot at its June meeting.

      Risky currencies hammered

      With concerns over the major increase in infection cases in the Delta variant, this general environment is helping safe haven JPY and CHF while the mighty dollar is taking a breather, having recently made fresh three-month highs. The yen is on track to post one of its biggest daily increases this year as investors dump risky positions in currency markets.

      The rollback in the reflation trade is bad news for commodity-dollar currencies with AUD hitting levels last seen in early December. The Australian dollar is widely viewed as a proxy for risk appetite and has also not been helped by RBA Governor Lowe reiterating that inflation may only rise when the unemployment rate falls further and holds in the low 4% area, an outcome not expected until 2024. Of course, this comes after the bank took its first step towards QE tapering by announcing a smaller, third round of bond buying.

      OPEC+ disarray

      Added to this summer cocktail for commodity currencies is an oil market which has dropped over 7% in the last few days, since the OPEC+ meeting failed to agree on production output levels for the next few months. With the rapid rising virus count in numerous countries around the world, an extended period without a deal could spur an increased amount of noncompliance. The early summer months are certainly alive with action in both financial markets and in several sporting arenas.

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