Displaying items by tag: Treasuries
Long-dated Treasuries' Bad Year Likely a One-off
When stocks are down like they were last year, investors usually look towards treasuries for safety. But last year was unlike any other year. While the S&P 500 fell 18%, the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond index slumped 13%. However, a year like 2022 is unlikely to happen again any time soon. According to analysts, that leaves “room for those bonds to reclaim their role as a core risk-off allocation for asset owners this year.” For example, when SVB Financial Group recently announced hefty losses, the S&P 500 index fell 3.4% between March 8th and March 13th. But investors looking for a safe haven in long-dated Treasuries sent yields plunging, providing bondholders with a gain of more than 4%. Many analysts expect the conditions that led to close correlations between the stock and bond market “to prove ephemeral.” According to Jason Vaillancourt, global macro strategist with Putnam Investments, the biggest risk for those strong correlations is when "The Fed gets really fired up to fight inflation, as with the central bank's 'uh-oh' moment last year — when inflationary pressures it had deemed transitory proved anything but, forcing the central bank to shift aggressively to catch-up mode.” He added, “With the Fed frontloading its fight against inflation last year, the conditions required to maintain correlations at 1 this year are unlikely to persist.”
Finsum:With the Fed front-loading its fight against inflation last year, the conditions that led to a high correlation between the stock and bonds markets, aren’t likely to persist.
2-year Treasury Yield Posts Largest 3-day Decline Since 1987 Stock Crash
Investors poured into U.S government bonds Monday after last week’s collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. This sent Treasury yields plunging. The 2-year Treasury yield was recently trading at 4.06%, down 100 basis points or a full percentage point, since Wednesday. This marks the largest three-day decline for the 2-yield since Oct. 22, 1987, when the yield fell 117 basis points. That move followed the October 19th, 1987 stock market crash, which is also known as “Black Monday.” The yield on the 10-year Treasury was down just under 20 basis points. Prices soared and yields fell after news of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Regulators took over the bank on Friday after mass withdrawals on Thursday led to a bank run. Regulators announced on Sunday that they would guarantee Silicon Valley Bank’s depositors. With fears of contagion across the banking sector spiking, investors looked to government bonds for safety. Investors are also rethinking how aggressive the Federal Reserve will be with rate hikes after the bank’s collapse. This helped to send short-term yields lower. The Fed is meeting next week and was expected to raise rates for the ninth time since last March. However, Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse may change that. Goldman Sachs certainly thinks so. The investment bank no longer thinks the Fed will hike rates, citing “recent stress” in the financial sector.
Finsum:After Silicon Valley Bank’s recent collapse, fears of contagion across the banking sector spread, driving investors into Treasury bonds, which sent yields tumbling.
Retail Traders Love Bonds Right Now
One of the top financial stories in 2023 so far is the hot bond market. But it’s not just true for institutional investors, retail traders are also piling into bonds. One reason for this is that it has never been easier to buy Treasuries. They can be bought directly from the Treasury Department, at discount brokerages, or accessed through ETFs. It is also due to a huge shift in fixed income as rate expectations have sent yields on bonds to their highest in years. The 2-year, 10-year, and 30-year treasuries are all yielding around 4%. In fact, retail traders are so honed in on buying bonds, they've crashed the TreasuryDirect website repeatedly. Shawn Cruz, Head Trading Strategist at TD Ameritrade, recently told Yahoo Finance that “For pretty much the entire decade, leading up to this year, when people asked about retail and fixed income, I could just simply say, ‘no one really cares.’ The past year, that has significantly changed.” Sales of Treasury bills with maturities of one year or less through TreasuryDirect were $12.0 billion in January, a new record. BlackRock, the largest provider of ETFs by assets, has also benefited from this boom. So far in 2023, investors have poured $9.9 billion into U.S. iShares fixed-income ETFs.
Finsum:Retail traders are piling into bonds this year due to easier access to Treasuries and the highest bond yields in years.
Which Bond ETFs Held Up Best in February?
U.S. government and corporate bond ETFs took a hit in February, as Treasury yields rose due to continuing fears over high inflation. According to a February 28 note from Lawrence Gillum, fixed income strategist for LPL Financial, “While bonds are back, 2023 may be bumpy. We don’t think we’ll see another year like 2022 anytime soon, but despite the higher starting yield levels, we could see periods of negative returns.” For instance, according to FactSet data, the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) fell 2.7% last month, while the iShares 20+ Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) dropped 4.9% in February. When bond yields rise, prices of debt fall. However, shorter-duration Treasury bonds fared much better than longer-term U.S. debt last month as investors adjusted their rate expectations. For example, the SPDR Bloomberg 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) posted a small return of 0.3% in February. In addition, two-year Treasury yields, ended February at 4.795%, up from 0.730% at the end of 2021 as higher yields have been attracting investors after rates surged last year.
Finsum:While longer-duration bond ETFs faltered last month due to continuing fears over inflation, shorter-duration Treasury bond ETFs such as the SPDR Bloomberg 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) fared much better.
Bond Investors Bracing for Recession
Based on the latest treasury yield movements, investors are bracing for a recession. Yields on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note have fallen by around 83 basis points from their October high of 4.338% as investors sent $4.89 billion into U.S. bond funds last week. That marks the third straight week of net inflows. The bond rally comes after Treasuries had the worst year ever, driven by the Fed's tightening policy. The key driver for the current rally has been concerns over the Fed's rate increases sending the U.S. economy into a recession. Treasuries are typically seen as a safe haven during economic uncertainty. Investors expect the Fed to raise rates by another 25 basis points at the end of its monetary policy meeting today, while Wall Street is also looking for signs that the Fed will pull back on its hawkish stance amid falling inflation. Rob Daly, director of fixed income at Glenmede Investment Management told Reuters that "Things are coming off the boil here. There is a de-risking that's happening, and we're seeing flows out of equities into higher quality parts of the market such as fixed income." Although stocks have been rallying since late last year, investors are playing it safe, expecting the rally to end if a recession hits.
Finsum:While stocks have been in a mini rally since the end of last year, investors are playing it safe flooding U.S. bonds funds in the expectation of a recession.