Huge Dovish Bet Loses $50 Million In One Day

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Apr 11, 2024 - 02:40 AM

Late on Tuesday, the financial world was swept up by a report from Bloomberg according to which an unknown trader had put on single record-sized trade, betting that today's CPI print would come in dovish, and forcing the Fed to cut sooner. It did not work out quite as expected.

For those who missed it, a significant block trade in US short-term interest-rate futures, specifically in December 2024 SOFR futures, took place during market hours on Tuesday, marking the largest trade of its kind. This trade - which was widely publicized by Bloomberg - contributed to driving gains in the Treasury market. After all, nobody would gamble tens of millions if they didn't know something.

The trade, likely initiated by a buyer, coincided with expectations of benign March consumer price index data, potentially leading to a revival in expectations for Fed rate cuts. Confidence in this outlook was reinforced by State Street Global Advisors predicting an aggressive half-point Fed rate cut by June and remarks from US President Joe Biden’s economic aide, Lael Brainard. As of the time of the trade, the swaps market was pricing in approximately 65 basis points of Fed rate cuts by year-end. The December 2024 SOFR futures were trading slightly higher than the block trade’s price, indicating continued market activity and investor interest in hedging or speculating on interest rate movements.

In retrospect, it turned out that the trader really didn't know anything, and on Wednesday the trade blew up in spectacular fashion after a stronger-than-expected reading triggered a market rout.

According to Bloomberg calculations, moments after the CPI print, which came in hot on every possible metric, the position was roughly $50 million in the red, based on price moves in the underlying December 2024 futures.

As duly noted earlier, after Wednesday’s red hot report, expectations for the first full quarter-point rate cut this year wilted and shifted to November from September, with the market now pricing in less than two 25 basis-point moves for all of 2024.

While it's not known who placed the record futures bet, or whether it was made in conjunction with other trades, the scale of the block trade — with a $2MM DV01, or $2 million in gains or losses per basis point move — suggests it was made to offset a separate underlying position, possibly a bearish stance although it is unclear. Separate data released Wednesday from the CME suggested the trade was a new wager or hedge, rather than short-covering of an existing position.

The unknown trader was not the only casualty of today's red hot inflation number: on Tuesday, State Street predicted a half-point cut as soon as the June meeting; instead swaps are now pricing in just 3 basis points of cuts for the FOMC meeting. If State Street had put money on the trade, it is now gone... all gone.