Pimco's Gross says he's now a "bear market manager"

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Long-time bond bull Bill Gross, just one year after declaring the end of the bear market for U.S. Treasuries, on Thursday conceded the snappy pace of global economic growth will likely keep bonds on their heels.

Furthermore, Gross forecast that benchmark Treasury yields will range higher than previously thought, prompting him to acknowledge he is now a “bear market manager” after a quarter century as the global bond market’s most powerful bull.

The comments from Gross, chief investment officer for Pacific Investment Management Co. and manager of the world’s largest bond fund, further pressured languishing U.S. stock and bond markets late Thursday afternoon.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index .SPX dropped 1.76 percent on the session, while U.S. 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR yields shot up by their biggest one-day margin in three years.

Gross said solid global growth and a mild acceleration of inflation in the United States and abroad will drive 10-year note yields to top out at 6.5 percent over the next three to five years as opposed to the 5.5 percent ceiling previously forecast and 5.13 percent seen late on Thursday.

Gross’s comments were included in a note summarizing an annual gathering of Pimco investment managers, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Over the next three to five years, Pimco expects the global economy to continue to grow at a pace between 4 percent and 5 percent as well as a mild acceleration of inflation, which together are “not necessarily bond-friendly,” Gross said.

Not only is the firm trimming duration, or its portfolio’s sensitivity to interest rates, to a level that would be less than market indices as opposed to greater than market indices, Pimco is taking advantage of the global growth phenomenon by placing minor positions in emerging-market currencies.

Gross said his duration call is “one of the biggest shifts that I would anticipate for the next three to five years. And after 25 years of being a bull market manager to all of a sudden become a bear market manager -- although mildly so in terms of higher interest rates over the next three to five years -- is sort of a major shift.”