January Is Turning Out to Be the Kindest Month for Treasuries

Updated on
  • U.S. bonds gain, Japan yields drop to records on BOJ rate cut
  • Economic growth in U.S. cooled to 0.7% in fourth quarter

Treasuries are rallying in January for the third year in a row.

U.S. government securities have returned 1.8 percent this month through Thursday, based on the Bloomberg U.S. Treasury Bond Index. They handed investors 3 percent in January 2015 and 1.8 percent in January 2014, both the best monthly performances of those years. U.S. debt rose on Friday, while a rally in Japanese bonds sent yields to record lows as the Asian nation’s central bank implemented a surprise interest-rate cut.

“Every year economists are really optimistic,” said Kim Youngsung, head of overseas investment at South Korea’s Government Employees Pension Service in Seoul. “But we didn’t meet our expectations. That’s why we’ve had a Treasuries rally for the last 10 years.”

The January gains in U.S. sovereign debt occurred in tandem with economic downtrends in the first quarters of both of the past two years. A government report showed the pace of U.S. expansion slowed to 0.7 percent in the last three months of 2015, less than the 0.8 percent pace forecast in a Bloomberg survey of analysts and down from 2 percent in the previous period. Plunging oil and stock prices are creating additional headwinds for the economy as 2016 begins.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year note yields fell to the lowest since October, declining four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 1.94 percent as of 9:15 a.m. in New York, based on Bloomberg Bond Trader data. The 2.25 percent security due in November 2025 rose 10/32, or $3.13 per $1,000 face amount, to 102 23/32.

Ten-year Japanese yields plunged to an all-time low of 0.09 percent. The rate cut underscores the difficulties authorities are having spurring Japan’s economy, helping drive demand for the safety of government debt, said Hideaki Kuriki, a bond investor in Tokyo at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, which oversees $55.4 billion.

U.S. government securities have advanced every year during the past decade except 2009 and 2013, based on Bank of America Corp. data.