Bonds Remain on Top

Bank of America rumors send investors scurrying for safety

Friday's bond market continued to wrest the upper hand from stocks to round out a hectic opening week for the year. Primed to find the smoking gun in payrolls from the Fed's preemptive rate cut, the markets were stunned instead by rumors of derivative and loan losses relating to Bank of Amer's utility loan book, which were later denied.

Wall Street, anxious that "where there's smoke, there's fire," suffered from retail and tech earnings warnings which combined with fresh financial sector fears sent NASDAQ comp down 6%, below the half-way mark of the Fed-induced 14% rally. This ignited flight-to-quality flows into the front end of the Treasury curve, bills, Euro$ and Fed funds futures. The curve steepened sharply, with the long end lagging on the stagflation implied in payrolls report which saw further manufacturing declines, but also chunky wage gains.

But November new home sales sank 2.2% as well, and the March bond eventually closed near 105-20 session high -- some 50% above its 104-03 freefall lows hit Thurs. 2-year yields continued to race south of Fed funds, with a gap of -145bp raising Fed cut hopes.

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