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Pamplona hits Europe's bond market! Bulls send yields to centuries-old lows

Don't look now, but European bond investors are sending yields to lows unseen in at least 200 years. Yes, you read that right. Spanish 10 year debt now yields about 2.45 percent. That is below U.S. 10-year Treasury rates, which is at 2.46 percent.

That's right: the price of Spanish bonds are now more expensive than their U.S. counterparts.

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They're not the only ones: German 10-year debt is at 1.11 percenta new low—while French and Italian bond yields are also at historical troughs.

How low are rates? Other than a brief period of hyperinflation, for Germany they are the lowest since the early 1800s, according to The Financial Times (FT), citing Deutsche Bank data:

Country Historical low

Germany early 1800s

France 250 years

Spain 200 years

Netherlands 500 years

Source: FT/DB

Think about that: rates are at 500-year lows in the Netherlands.

What's causing this? We know all about persistent central bank stimulus programs and its effect on low rates, as well as sluggish growth. But the chaos in Ukraine, coupled with plans for new sanctions against Russia, send yields even lower yesterday and today.

The conflict is also affecting the euro as well: since the conflict broke out in June, the single currency has weakened, but it's weakened markedly since the Malaysian jet went down last week.

Elsewhere:

1) The Federal Reserve starts its two-day meeting today, which sets up for that old chestnut: buy the S&P 500 Index on the day before a policy committee announcement, since it seems to "drift" upward regularly on those days.

--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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