Germany's 10-year government bond yield held near record lows on Tuesday after a rate cut in Australia and rising bets on U.S. monetary easing soon reinforced expectations of a dovish policy stance at this week's European Central Bank meeting. Australia's central bank on Tuesday cut its cash rate to a record low 1.25% in what could be the first in a series of stimulus measures.
St. Louis Federal Reserve president James Bullard said on Monday that a U.S. interest rate cut "may be warranted soon" given risks to global growth posed by trade tensions and weak U.S. inflation. Growing speculation about Federal Reserve cuts against a backdrop of increasingly bitter trade conflicts has driven the U.S. and European bond yields to all-time lows.
"We have seen an impressive rally in core bond markets, especially U.S. Treasuries, indicating that investors anticipate rate cuts soon," said KBC rates strategist Mathias van der Jeugt. "Bund and U.S. Treasury yields are in overbought territory so we might see yields rise in the very short term. But in the longer run, we still prefer to err on the side of caution."
In early trade, most 10-year euro zone bond yields were down around one basis point. Germany's benchmark Bund yield was at minus 0.21% and within sight of Monday's record low. Dutch and French 10-year bond yields held within sight of multi-year lows.
The dovish signals from a major central bank set the context for Thursday's ECB meeting, which could see some action in the form of details on a new round of cheap, multi-year loans to banks. "I think we will see a pretty dovish message from (ECB chief Mario) Draghi this week," said Mark Dowding, a senior portfolio manager at BlueBay Asset Management.
"The appearance of downside risks means the ECB will want to convey to investors that the scope for monetary policy action is not exhausted and they stand ready to support the economy and inflation if conditions weaken." The flash reading of eurozone inflation for May, due out this session, may offer some clues on the inflation outlook.
In Italy, where the focus remained on political developments, bond yields were a touch higher. Italy's ruling 5-Star Movement wants the coalition government to continue and is ready to back two measures that are a top priority for coalition partner the League, 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio said in a newspaper interview on Tuesday. On Monday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte threatened to resign if his two coalition partners did not end their feuding.
(With inputs from agencies.)