Traders are pricing in about 80 basis points of cuts in March, and 100 basis points by July, which would drag borrowing costs down to zero. Those bets fueled a rally in U.S. Treasuries, with the rate on 30-year bonds diving as much as 59 basis points. Benchmark U.K. bond yields tumbled below zero for the first time, Germany’s two-year bonds and rates in Australia and New Zealand fell to new lows.
The latest frenzy in markets, spurred by concerns over an oil price war between the world’s biggest exporters, prompted the New York Fed to say it will boost the size of this week’s overnight and term repo operations to ensure reserves are ample and reduce the risk of pressures in money markets.
“The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me that the U.S. cash rate will fall below zero some time very, very soon,” said Chris Rands, portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management Ltd. in Sydney. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. tries negative rates, especially with the tailspin in oil now adding to the virus fears.”