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Bad omen for markets from first signs of yield curve inversion

By Adam Haigh

The forward curve of a closely watched proxy ..

By Adam Haigh

The forward curve of a closely watched proxy for the Federal Reserves policy rate has slightly inverted, signaling investors are either pricing in a mistake from central bankers or end-of-cycle dynamics, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The inversion of the one-month U.S. overnight indexed swap rate implies some expectation of a lower Fed policy rate after the first quarter of 2020, the banks strategists including Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, wrote in a note Friday.

“An inversion at the front end of the U.S. curve is a significant market development, not least because it occurs rather rarely,” they said. “It is also generally perceived as a bad omen for risky markets.”

The negative market signal comes as investors grapple with higher short term borrowing costs, which have risen in the U.S. to levels unseen since the financial crisis. While the strategists admit it is difficult to discern which of the two explanations for the curve inversion carries more weight, flow data suggests it is more likely to be rising expectations of a Fed policy mistake.

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