Bonds: Total Market
PIMCO saw the second quarter sell-off in bond funds as investors pulled nearly $30 billion in the last three months. The biggest cause for the sell-off is the rising rate hikes and inflation which may be causing yields to rise and bond prices to fall. Still, analysts say that if interest hikes begin to stabilize then the bond outflows will seize and even reverse into inflows.
This is the largest sell-off since the start of the pandemic, and investors are concerned a recession is around the corner. PIMCOs shining light are the few funds that it has that are doing okay despite macro headwinds and could prove to be a driving force for inflows when markets stabilize.
Finsum: Bond prices are just too low right now and yields will fall with inflation easing and the fed tightening, but its a matter of it happening soon enough.
Calling bond prices stubborn would be an understatement, and the bears have been continuing to pull investors out of the bond market in the mass exodus of outflows. The tides could be starting to shift, and the reasons are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Investing yield curves and recession indicators are flashing, which means investors will flock back to the bond market as a safe asset when equities fall. On the other side of things, if inflation is being driven by supply-side factors more than the Fed thinks, then inflation will fall dramatically, and less tapering will be needed to get there. This means bond prices could rise as yields fail to. Broad bond exposure is still a good idea with volatility rising.
Finsum: It’s been rough in the bond market the last few months, but there are economic reasons that could turn around.
Acquisitions and launches are running hot in direct indexing and in an attempt to match rival Fidelity, Charles Schwab announced the launch of their new direct indexing products. The funds will be available starting on April 30th, but unlike Fidelity’s ultra-low initial investment of $5k, Schwab will require a $100,000 minimum. They want their direct index investors to have a better conceptualization of the market and think the minimum will attract this. The launch comes fresh off of tax season and will hopefully drive interest as tax is an advantage of DI. Schwab will concentrate on the tax advantages of their custom offerings as opposed to ESG or other flavors popular with these funds.
Finsum: The timing of this launch could put investors over the hump when it comes to taking advantage of tax-loss harvesting with their DI products.
BlackRock sent waves through the market announcing they were slashing fees from 0.04% to 0.03% for the largest bond fund in the world the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG). This wasn’t the only move they made as equity funds LRGF and INTF got their fees reduced as well. The fee battle is a prominent part of the game as lower expense ratios definitely garner more attention from investors. Previously BR had reduced fees on other fixed-income products as part of the escalating competition with Vanguard.
Finsum: FI income investors should keep an eye out, with prices and fees at lows, bond market ETFs could be in the ‘buy the dip’ territory’.
Many investors are fretting over the rising bond yields which are sending their prices tumbling, but this could just be the tip of the iceberg. The aggregate bond index AGG has already fallen 3.9% and that's with the critical 10-year T-bill only rising to a 2% yield. If the 10-year hikes all the way up to its high of 3.25% in 2018 that could be a disaster. With inflation at a 40-year high that's a real possibility and any yield you are getting is all eaten away at. However, if inflation is temporary (caused by supply chains) or Fed pulls breaks fast enough then yields might be maxing out, and bond prices could turn around.
Finsum: Inflation expectations are remarkably low which means that investors are convinced either the Fed will credibly bring inflation down or as supply chains loosen that will bring inflation down. Markets are saying that bond risk is priced in.
The market took a nosedive in the middle of the day today as investors were walloped with a hot CPI inflation reading. The CPI rose an eye-popping 5.4% in June, with core inflation coming in at 4.5%. The market was anticipating a flat 5.0% CPI number. Indexes turned downward immediately following the report. It should be noted than June 2020 was the nadir of the pandemic inflation readings, so that makes this report look even bigger.
FINSUM: The inflation boogeyman returns. Beware a big sell-off across the board in bonds, especially if the Fed or a member of the Fed makes any tightening comments.