The Federal Reserve looks set to move sooner rather than later to taper back its bond buying, once more surprising markets that have been repeatedly confused about when the Fed will begin to step back from its extraordinary easing policy.
Treasury yields ripped higher Wednesday and stocks fell after minutes from the Fed's October meeting revealed that central bank officials felt that they could decide to start scaling back their quantitative easing bond buying at one of its next few meetings, depending on economic growth.
That immediately sent the yield on the 10-year Treasury above 2.79 percent, a level it was last at on Sept. 18, the day the Fed surprised markets by not moving to taper back its $85 billion bond-buying program. Since the strong October jobs report, markets have suspected the Fed could move as early as December though the probability appeared low.
"It probably was underappreciated that December may be in play, especially after some of the recent commentary we've had over the last couple of weeks," said Tom DeMarco, market strategist at Fidelity Capital Markets. "I don't think it is, and I don't think the odds are minuscule for that. If I had to try to put a number on that, I'd say the odds are significant but that's not my base case. ... I'm thinking more January."