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Europe bond weakness spilled over to the U.S. as investors look past week domestic data and forward to a better second half of 2015. Fading U.S. dollar strength, better growth in Europe, and the rebound in oil prices point to a reversal of the lower inflation expectations that powered bond strength for most of 2014 and early 2015.


Since the peak in oil prices in June 2014, consumers saved some, spent some on nonessential items, and paid down some debt, even as measures of consumer sentiment soared. The big drop in gasoline prices has not provided a big lift to the consumer sector, which continues to struggle in this recovery, nor did it change the overall tepid trajectory of consumer spending.


Intermediate to long-term Treasury yields increased by 0.01% to 0.11% for the week ending April 24, 2015, despite weaker economic data. Fed rate hike expectations reached their most marketfriendly point. Rate hike expectations remain notably below the Fed’s recently reduced rate forecasts by a roughly 50% margin over the next three years.


First quarter economic weakness will likely get plenty of attention this week, when the initial estimate of Q1 2015 GDP is expected to confirm tepid growth during the quarter. We continue to expect that the FOMC will begin to raise rates in late 2015, when it is “reasonably confident” that inflation will move back to its 2% objective over the medium term. Economic performance since the end of the recession has varied widely by state, with oil playing a key role.


Investors continued to embrace risk this past week as the Nasdaq reached a new high while peripheral European bonds and emerging market equities rallied. Regional economic growth continues to diverge but slowly moves ahead, largely pushed by internal demand and supported by liberal monetary policy.

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