Expectations were all over the board for today's European Central bank policy announcement, as well as the characterization of future policy potential at the press conference later in the morning. That said, there was a consensus level of 'action' that included a high chance of rate cuts, a good possibility of LTROs, and almost no likelihood (but some hope) for asset purchases. The ECB basically did all of those things--no more, no less.
With no expectation for an actual announcement of QE, there was significant interest in ECB President Mario Draghi's treatment of the topic during the press conference. In other words, market participants mostly assumed today's actual policy changes and were actually more interested in hearing how the ECB's approach might be evolving.
When Draghi began speaking, he looked physically awful--like a guy with the flu who also happens to be nervous about breaking some bad news. Compared to his usual self, he seemed tired, apprehensive, and defeated.
Maybe it's just been a long week for Mario, because there were no salient disappointments in the press conference. Though it was minimal, he even reiterated the committee's ongoing work on an asset purchase plan. Still, markets continued to brace for impact until he stood up and ended the Q&A. At that point Treasuries and MBS moved into positive territory, and have been trending higher in price ever since.
From a day-over-day standpoint, the gains aren't eye-watering--10's are only down 2.5bps and MBS up only a quarter of a point. But from the morning's weak moments, the rally is bona fide--chalking up more than half a point in price gains. More than a few lenders based rate sheets on prices that were closer to the lows of the day. They've since repriced positively.
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