The 10-year Treasury note fell to an all-time low on Thursday as rekindled coronavirus angst sparked fresh bids for U.S. debt at the expense of riskier assets like stocks.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year note sank to 0.899%, below its former all-time low of 0.906% hit earlier in the week. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond fell 10 basis points to 1.54%.
The 2-year note yield was last seen at 0.593%, off a new all-time low of 0.554% hit earlier in the session; the 5-year rate fell to 0.686%. Bond yields fall as their prices rise.
The afternoon swoon in yields came after “Bond King” and DoubleLine CEO Jeffrey Gundlach told CNBC that he expects the 10-year yield is near the bottom of its fall but that short-term rates will go to zero as growth concerns over the coronavirus persist.
“If we look at history, once the Fed does a panic, inter-meeting rate cut, particularly when it’s 50 basis points … they typically cut pretty quickly again,” Gundlach said. “I’m in the camp that the Fed is going to cut rates again, perhaps even in two weeks” during its regularly scheduled meeting.
“We will see short rates headed toward zero,” he added.
New headlines documenting the spread of the virulent coronavirus also helped fuel demand for the relative safety of U.S. debt on Thursday.
In the U.S., California declared a state of emergency after a coronavirus-related death in the state, where there are at least 53 confirmed cases. Princess Cruises, meanwhile, held a ship off the coast of San Francisco after Governor Gavin Newsom said he asked that the Grand Princess not return to the state until its passengers are properly tested for the disease.
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that there are now more than 93,000 confirmed cases worldwide and more than 3,000 deaths. Japan’s confirmed coronavirus infections rose above 1,000 on Wednesday, Italy said its death toll is up to 107 and shut all schools, and Australia banned travelers from South Korea to help slow the illness.
The U.S. government announced an $8 billion spending package on Wednesday to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, while the IMF also unveiled a $50 billion aid program. The U.S. Federal Reserve has already implemented an emergency 50-basis-point cut to interest rates in a bid to contain the expected economic fallout from the outbreak, with other central banks set to follow suit.
That funding appeared to temporarily stanch investor fears on Wednesday, when the Dow posted its second-highest point gain ever and all three major U.S. equity indexes exited correction territory.
Health care led the market’s gains on Wednesday after former Vice President Joe Biden notched a series of primary wins on Super Tuesday, easing investor concerns that Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren could win the presidential election and overhaul the health insurance industry.
The government said the number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week with initial claims down by 3,000 in the week ended Feb. 29 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal forecasted 215,000 new claims.
—CNBC’s Yun Li and Elliot Smith contributed to this report.