3 huge 'risk-off' trades are going crazy right now

Global markets are in chaos right now.

On Thursday, major global stock markets were sharply lower, headlined by a plunge in Europe with US futures also deep in the red.

But under the surface of the headline stock collapses, three big “risk-off” trades stand out:

  1. The Japanese yen is surging
  2. US Treasuries are rallying
  3. Gold is spiking

The basic outline here is that in the wake of the financial crisis the Bank of Japan has been the most aggressive in easing monetary policy, sending the yen sharply lower in value.

Betting on yen depreciation has been a popular trade in markets.

US Treasuries, considered the safest place investors can park their money, and gold — which is a traditional “end of the world” trade — are also often bought up aggressively by investors in times of stress.

The Yen strengthened to 110.99 against the dollar, before weakening back to around 112.20 around 7:30 a.m. ET. This is the strongest the Japanese currency has been since October 2014.

US Treasures were getting a huge bid, pushing the yield on the benchmark 10-year note down 12 basis points to as low as 1.572%.

The last time it touched this level was back in December 2012. The 10-year record low of 1.39%, hit back in July 2012, is now within sight.

Gold futures are up 3%, or a whopping $36.30 an ounce to as high as $1,241.90.

This is the highest level for the yellow metal — which is seen as a classic rush to safety trade — in about a year.

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