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Verizon's record-breaking sale may have Fed implications

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There's a bond frenzy afoot, and Verizon Communications is the reason!

How starved are investors for yield when you see Verizon issue 6.55 percent 30-year bonds that trade from par to 106 in the same day? It happened yesterday! And this morning that 30-year bond is at 107 1/8...now yielding 6.03 percent!

The three-year Verizon bond, initial yield at 2.50 percent, went from par to 102 1/4, now yielding 1.72 percent.

Yes, people need to be invested in the name, because of the sheer size ($49 billion, biggest corporate deal ever) and because it is in all the bond indexes. Verizon will now comprise 25 percent of the telecom index weighting in the bond indexes (the Lehman Aggregate is the index everyone uses).

And yes, Verizon's bond yields are attractive. The deal was cheap, which means the yields were higher.

But I can't help thinking there is a little more to this story: the demand was so strong it suggests that the investment grade community has priced in some tapering from the Federal Reserve. The near-term risks for a further backup in rates are limited or manageable, or why on earth would everyone be chasing prices higher, yields lower?

Speaking of the Fed, trader talk is increasingly turning to the Fed meeting next week.The consensus is for "taper light" of $10-$15 billion (to $70-$75 billion), with most if not all the reduction in Treasuries, not mortgage-backed securities.

One issue getting some attention is the 2016 Fed economic forecasts, which will be unveiled for the first time next week. There will be attempts to extrapolate from the Fed's estimates to a Fed fund rate for 2016. Everyone believes the Fed will by then have abandoned their zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), but where will Fed funds be? I've seen estimates anywhere from two to four percent. If the Fed believes we will be close to full employment by then, it will likely be closer to four percent.

But any of that talk will likely be downplayed at the press conference. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will emphasize that ZIRP will be in place for some time and that they remain "data dependent," meaning they could stop tapering and even reverse it if conditions warrant.

A Bernanke successor announced? There seems to be no consensus on when President Obama might announce a successor. But a small group thinks it is likely to be fairly soon--perhaps not long after the Fed meeting next week.

Elsewhere

1) The impressive September rally (S&P 500 up 3.4 percent) started looking a bit tired yesterday, and that's the same story today. True, China managed a small gain (up 5 days in a row), but Japan ended down fractionally after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moved forward with controversial plans to increase the sales tax. Europe, which also managed impressive gains so far this month, is also down fractionally.

2) More disappointment in retail land: Men's Wearhouse reported Q2 earnings and revenues well below expectations; guidance for the full year is now $2.40-$2.50 v. $2.77 estimates. According to CEO Doug Ewert: "Retail clothing sales during the second quarter were below our internal plan as we experienced a decline in customer traffic compared to last year's second quarter. We believe this is primarily due to macro issues affecting the apparel retailing space."

Lululemon jumped over Wall Street's earnings bar, but lowered 2014 earnings and revenue guidance.


—By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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