(Bloomberg) -- Hedge funds are warming up to bets on a steeper Treasuries yield curve as the end of the current Federal Reserve rate hiking cycle draws closer. 

With markets pricing a smaller 25 basis point move at the upcoming Feb. 1 meeting, and the rate hike premium easing out of the March meeting as well, bond traders are betting next week’s interest rate increase could be one of the last for a while. 

Meanwhile in the cash market, short bets rose at the expense of neutral positions, moving net positioning to its most bearish in three weeks, the latest JPMorgan Treasury client survey released Tuesday showed. 

The following is a rundown of how positioning has unfolded in various markets:

Steepener Signs

Hedge funds were aggressive net sellers of 10-year note futures in the week up to Jan. 17. The spread between net positioning in two- and 10-year note futures moved to the widest since December 2021, indicating the potential for increasing demand for 2s10s steepener positions. 

In total, hedge funds added to net short positions by over 350,000 10-year note equivalents, with the most bearish swings seen in 10-year note futures, along with bond and ultra-long contracts. In contrast, asset managers added to duration by a combined 410,000 10-year note futures equivalents. 

Skew Steady

Skew drifted back to neutral following last week’s rally in the 10-year which saw yields fall below 3.32%. The latest skew remains slightly negative, although well off recent extremes as traders’ pay a diminishing premium to hedge a Treasuries selloff from current levels. 

10-Year Blocks Active

Block activity was less aggressive than the prior week on the front-end, but picked up in 10-year note futures where over 55,000 traded via blocks. 

The Condor Trade

Heat-map on 10-year options continues to show a large condor trade in March puts targeting a yield range of 3.75% to 3.90%. 

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