The U.S. central bank, which has been aggressively purchasing Treasuries in a bid to offset the economic and market fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday said that it would dial back the daily pace of buying to $50 billion next week. The pace had been $60 billion for its most recent two days of purchases, down from an earlier speed of $75 billion per day.
The central bank announced its return to quantitative easing last month as virus concerns ripped through global markets and the prospects for the global economy cratered. It subsequently declared that it would purchase assets “in the amounts needed to support the smooth functioning of markets.”
Treasuries fell following the Fed’s announcement, taking the 10-year yield up to around 0.62%, while U.S. stocks held their decline for the day. The Bloomberg Dollar Index remained up.
The scaling back of purchases “is being seen as a sign that Fed sees less of a need to clean up balance sheets and counter the excess selling pressures that had come into the market,” said Gregory Faranello, head of U.S. rates at AmeriVet Securities in New York. “That’s pushing yields higher.”
Purchases through Friday have totaled around $1 trillion. The Fed plans to buy Treasuries on Monday through Thursday next week, with markets closed Friday in observance of a holiday.
The program’s purpose — “to support the smooth functioning of markets” that had become impaired — has been at least partially achieved, with key metrics such as off-the-run spreads and the cash-futures basis moving back toward normal levels. Major economic and financial concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic nonetheless continue to affect markets.
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