Treasurys were bid higher, and yields, which move inversely, fell. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 2.41 percent in late trading.
Traders said the bond market continued to react to the idea that the Federal Reserve may be on hold until at least the middle of the year. Last week, the bond market was expecting both a more hawkish sounding Federal Reserve on Wednesday and better data on wage growth in Friday’s jobs report. Since both were disappointing, the market has been adjusting to the idea that the Fed will not consider hiking interest rates when it next meets in March, but wait until at least June.
Gold also found buyers, as traders Monday said President Donald Trump’s trade talk has made investors nervous. They also pointed to the fact that the timing of his agenda now seems more uncertain, after he said in an interview Sunday that replacing Obamacare may take until 2018. That raises questions about the timing of tax reform and stimulus spending, two agenda items that have caused stocks to rally since the election.
Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, said the stock market was showing signs of consolidation after Friday’s big gains. “It looks like the [Trump] agenda is slowing down,” said Cashin, noting the weekend comments were a negative factor. “You can’t chalk today up to much. The volume was horrific. This is a rather hollow week.”
Cashin said stocks may not find much direction ahead of next week, when Fed Chair Janet Yellen testifies before Congress. There are earnings but little important data this week.
Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rates strategy at BMO, said the Treasury market tried to sell off but market sentiment focused on the Fed “on hold” theme.
In a note, he said there is political risk from Washington, since health care now could take precedence over tax reform and stimulus.
“This would waste the ‘honeymoon period’ that the administration has to enact legislation. In that context, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement late last week that tax cuts would be shelved until after healthcare reform and Trump’s statement that healthcare might not see changes until 2018 leaves the Congressional logjam building much sooner-than-expected and the market more open to a retracement to lower yields as probabilities attached to a paradigm shift in rates fall,” he wrote.
The Fed on Monday reported the latest senior loan officer opinon survey. According to JPMorgan economist Daniel Silver, it showed tightening lending standards and weaker demand in several types of loans. In a note, he wrote that the report was not especailly bad, but the data is “a more negative signal about activity than many other recent business surveys that have been almost universally upbeat over the past few months.”
He said banks tightened lending standards for credit card lending for the first time since 2010, and other types of consumer lending also tightened. Banks also tightened standards for commercial real estate, but not as much as in recent quarters.
Other companies reporting earnings before the bell Tuesday include Archer Daniels Midland, Malinckrodt, Emerson, Cardinal Health, Vulcan Materials, Church & Dwight, Tenneco, Wellcare Health, BNP Paribas and Statoil.