Seoul Bond Man Breaks Holiday as Asia Digests Payrolls Bombshell

  • Aussie yields fall to record as Japan’s approach all-time low
  • Fed Chair Yellen gets to give her views Monday in Philadelphia

Wontark Doh came to work in Seoul Monday even though it’s a holiday to respond to the worst U.S. payroll report in almost six years.

Thomas Lam, an economist at RHB Securities Singapore Pte called it a “bombshell” report. Australian 10-year yields plunged to a record and Japan’s approached an all-time low as traders in Asia responded to the data. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gets an opportunity to give her views when she speaks at 12:30 p.m. in Philadelphia.

“Is the sky falling?” Lam, the chief economist for the Group of Three nations at RHB Securities in Singapore, wrote to clients Monday. The employment report “was a bombshell.”

Doh, the head of overseas fixed-income investment at Samsung Asset Management Co. in Seoul, said he was at work during South Korea’s Memorial Day holiday to see if any changes to were needed the firm’s portfolio. Samsung Asset, which oversees $200 billion, had purchased U.S. Treasuries and corporate bonds before the jobs report, according to Doh. He said he decided to wait for Yellen’s speech before making any changes.

‘Lot of Pain’

Treasuries surged after the U.S. said Friday the world’s biggest economy added 38,000 jobs in May, versus 160,000 projected by a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Investors were betting bonds would fall. Hedge funds and other large speculators had the biggest bet against two-year note futures in the week ended May 31 in nine years.

“There were a lot of people that were in a lot of pain,” said John Gorman, the head of U.S. debt trading for Asia and the Pacific at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Tokyo. “There were people short, and it hurt. Everybody’s waiting to see what Yellen says tonight. That’s huge.”

The reverberations in Asia were also seen in the Chinese yuan, which fell to the lowest level since 2014 against a trade-weighted basket of currencies.

For more on the outlook for growth in U.S. gross domestic product, click here.

Benchmark Treasuries were little changed Monday in Asia, with the 10-year yield at 1.71 percent as of 2:12 p.m. in Tokyo. The yield on the Bloomberg Global Developed Sovereign Bond Index dropped to 0.62 percent at the end of last week, the lowest ever in data going back to 2010.

“Whichever way you cut it,” National Australia Bank Ltd. said in a note to clients Monday, the U.S. jobs report “was a shocker.”

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