The focus for markets through much of the fourth quarter was the political drama surrounding the US tax bill and, of course, the price of Bitcoin. The US tax bill was debated and passed by both the House and Senate, and signed by President Trump before year-end.
The third quarter produced a negative total return for Canadian bond holders as the yield curve continued to rise, albeit more gradually, after the Bank of Canada’s shift to hawkishness in June.
What was a generally positive quarter for bonds, with 10-year yields drifting modestly lower in developed markets, turned on a dime during the last two weeks of June. A second 0.25% increase by the Fed, which was expected, combined with slightly more hawkish statements by several central banks to catch the market off-guard and produce the sharp sell-off.
The rapid yield increase in the fourth quarter of 2016 gave way to a much more sedate first quarter 2017 trading range for both the Canadian and US 10-year government bonds. Both bonds traded in an approximate range of 0.25%-0.30%, and finished March slightly lower than where they began the year.