Interest rates move higher in one of biggest 2-day moves of year as tax bill moves closer to law

Key Points
  • Bond yields snapped higher in one of the biggest two-day moves of the year, as Congress moved to turn the tax bill into law.
  • The sweeping package would add to the deficit and signal more growth, both factors that could drive interest rates higher.
  • The Treasury market move started in Europe, where German yields rose on the news of more German bond issuance than expected in 2018.

U.S. government debt yields rose on Tuesday after House Republicans passed a sweeping tax overhaul, sending the stimulus bill to the Senate for a vote.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.463 percent at 2:55 p.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also up at 2.825 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.


Treasury yields are staging one of the sharpest two-day moves of the year, as the U.S. tax bill moves closer to becoming law.

The House voted to approve the sweeping tax bill Tuesday afternoon, and it was next headed for the Senate.

Strategists said the move, which drove the U.S. 10-year yield to its highest level since late October, started in Europe Tuesday. The German government's plan to issue more debt-than-expected next year pushed bund yields higher, and that acted like a magnet, pulling up yields across Europe and in the U.S. Treasury market.

It's "the biggest two day rise in the 10-year yield since Sept. 12," noted Michael Schumacher, Wells Fargo head of rate strategy of the 11.3 basis points. The biggest two day rise was the 14.9 basis points in mid-January.

"I've been crediting the impending passage of the tax plan. I think people have been waiting for it," said Andrew Brenner, global head of emerging markets, fixed income at National Alliance. He said the market is anticipating a stronger economy, possibly a more active Fed and a wider budget deficit.

The German bund yield move to a 3-week high of 0.37 percent, accelerated the move in the U.S market, and pushed the 10-year Treasury yield to breach a key level.

"That steepened the 10- and 30-year part of the yield curve in Europe, and that price action gained technical momentum in the Treasury market," said Ian Lyngen, head of rate strategy at BMO. He said the move through 2.43 percent was important since it was the high yield of November, and the next milestone would be the double top from October.

"The next level I'm watching is 2.476, and if it breaks that, 2.50," he said.

Strategists said the volatility in the market also has to do with yearend activity.

Brenner said an important level would be if the 10-year reached the high of the year. That was 2.63 percent from March. "Higher yields are coming. They're all moving in the same direction. It's the tax plan," he said.

Bond strategists some of the 'sell the news' in the bond market could also be behind the decline in stocks. "It's been our thought for a bit that the equity market seemed pretty pumped up about the idea of tax cuts since Trump was elected and the bond market was reacting less," said Schumacher. "Bigger deficits mean steeper curve. Maybe a little bit of that is creeping in."