Euro zone bond yields dip after U.S. jobs data sends mixed signals

Credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

By Harry Robertson and Stefano Rebaudo

March 8 (Reuters) - Shorter-dated euro zone bond yields fell on Friday after mixed signals from U.S. jobs data, with payrolls rising but a slowdown in wage growth and a rise in unemployment suggesting the Federal Reserve is dealing with a cooling labour market.

The closely watched jobs numbers showed the U.S. added 275,000 jobs in February, compared with 229,000 in January, a figure that was revised considerably lower.

Average earnings grew just 0.1% month-on-month, less than expected, while the unemployment rate rose to 3.9% from 3.7% in January.

Germany's 2-year bond yield DE2YT=RR, which is sensitive to rate expectations, was last down 7 basis points (bps) at 2.735%, from 2.76% before the data. Yields move inversely to prices.

The German 10-year yield DE10YT=RR, the benchmark for the euro zone, initially fell but was last 3 bps lower at 2.263% on Friday, roughly where it stood before the jobs figures.

"The big concern was that we were seeing a reacceleration in both the economy and inflation in January, that was somewhat kicked off by the NFP (non-farm payroll) numbers in January," said Jamie Niven, senior portfolio manager at Candriam.

"So to see that being, let's be honest, revised quite substantially downwards is probably a relief for the market... hence why we're seeing particularly the front-end rallying."

Shorter-dated U.S. Treasury yields US2YT=RR also fell, down around 5 bps on the 2-year note at 4.463%.

Bond markets have become highly correlated in recent months, with investors expecting the world's biggest central banks to cut interest rates at around the same time.

The U.S. data came a day after the European Central Bank kept borrowing costs at record highs at its policy meeting while cautiously laying the ground to lower them later this year, saying it had made good progress in bringing down inflation.

Analysts said the ECB was growing in confidence that it could cut and send a strong signal for June, while the new inflation projections were on track to reach 2%.

Italy's 10-year government bond yield IT10YT=RR was 3 bps lower at 3.571%.

The spread over Germany's 10-year yield DE10IT10=RR - a gauge of the risk premium investors ask to hold bonds of the euro area's most indebted countries - stood at 129 bps. It hit 128.8 bps the day before, its lowest level since January 2022.

French central bank chief Francois Villeroy de Galhau, considered a centrist on the ECB's rate-setting Governing Council, said on Friday that interest rates would be lowered this spring, adding that "spring is from April until June 21".

The bank's next two monetary policy meetings are on April 11 and June 6.

ECB euro short-term rate (ESTR) forwards last fully priced in a first rate cut by June, having seen a 98% chance of before the U.S. data and after the ECB EURESTECBM3X4=ICAP.

They currently price around 102 bps of rate cuts in 2024. EURESTECBM7X8=ICAP

(Reporting by Harry Robertson and Stefano Rebaudo, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Alex Richardson and Alexander Smith)

((stefano.rebaudo@tr.com));))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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