Displaying items by tag: Treasuries

Saturday, 08 June 2024 12:06

Treasury Market Impacted by Chinese Selloff

The U.S. dollar's dominance as the global currency could face a challenge from China. In the first quarter of 2024, China sold a record $53.3 billion in U.S. Treasuries and agency bonds, indicating a push towards diversification.

 

Over the past 17 months, China's central bank has been significantly increasing its gold reserves, raising concerns about a shift away from reliance on the U.S. dollar. This move may be part of a strategy to protect against U.S. sanctions and reflect China’s broader economic ambitions. 

 

Other countries, including India, Russia, and Turkey, are also reducing their U.S. asset holdings amid concerns over America’s debt and political stability. While the dollar's decline isn't immediate, investors should consider diversifying their assets to navigate potential changes in the global financial landscape.


Finsum: These sorts of shifts could have drastic impact on Treasury prices so investors should monitor international changes.

Published in Wealth Management

The first five months of 2024 have featured above-average volatility for fixed income due to inflation continuing to run hot and increased uncertainty about the Fed’s next move. Despite these headwinds, institutional investors have been increasing their allocations to long-duration Treasuries and high-quality, corporate bonds.

One factor is that there is increasing confidence that inflation and the economy will cool in the second half of the year, following a string of soft data. As a result, allocators seem comfortable adding long-duration bonds to lock in yields at these levels. Many seem intent on front-running the rally in fixed income that would be triggered by the prospect of Fed dovishness. According to Gershon Distenfeld of AllianceBernstein, “History shows pretty consistently that yields rally hard starting three to four months before the Fed actually starts cutting.” 

For investors who believe in this thesis, Vanguard has three long-duration bond ETFs. The Vanguard Long-Term Bond ETF is composed of US government, investment-grade corporate, and investment-grade international bonds with maturities greater than 10 years. For those who prefer sticking solely to bonds, the Vanguard Long-Term Treasury ETF tracks the Bloomberg US Long Treasury Bond Index, which is composed of bonds with maturities greater than 10 years old. 

Many allocators are adding duration exposure via high-quality corporates given higher yields vs. Treasuries. These borrowers would also benefit from rate cuts, which would reduce financing costs and boost margins. The Vanguard Long-Term Corporate Bond ETF tracks the Bloomberg US 10+ Year Corporate Bond Index, which is comprised of US investment-grade, fixed-rate debt issued by industrial, financial, and utilities with maturities greater than 10 years. 


Finsum: Interest is starting to pick up in long-duration bonds following softer than expected economic and inflation data, which is leading to more optimism that the Fed will cut rates later this year.

Published in Bonds: Total Market

According to Lindsay Rosner, the managing director of multi-sector fixed income investments at Goldman Sachs, fixed income is presenting investors with an attractive opportunity to lock in high yields without compromising on quality. There are some challenges given divergences in central bank policy around the world and increasing uncertainty about the timing and direction of the Fed’s next move. Overall, the firm believes that the status quo of ‘higher for longer’ is likely to prevail.

A major factor is inflation, and the economy proving to be more resilient than expected. As a result, the market is now expecting two quarter-point rate cuts before the end of the year, compared to expectations of 150 basis points in cuts entering the year. The next Fed decision is on July 29. Prior to that meeting, there will be considerable amounts of inflation and labor market data, which could impact its thinking, although the current expectation is for it to hold rates steady.

With rates at these levels, there is increased risk that consumer spending is affected or that a higher cost of capital begins to impact corporate profitability and hiring. This risk increases the attractiveness of fixed income, especially as many investors are looking to rebalance given strong equity performance. Rosner sees opportunity in higher-quality areas such as investment-grade corporate bonds and structured products with AAA or AA ratings, especially given an impressive carry differential over Treasuries.


Finsum: Goldman Sachs sees opportunity in higher-quality segments of the fixed-income market. It believes investors should lock in yields at these levels, given the risk that high rates will eventually sour the economic outlook. 

Published in Bonds: Total Market

In its Q2 active fixed income commentary, Vanguard discussed lowering rate hike expectations for 2024 due to strong economic data, while inflation remains stubbornly above the Fed’s desired levels. 

Despite the odds of a soft landing declining, Vanguard’s base-case scenario is that the Fed is done hiking and will hold rates at these levels until later this year. A risk to the firm’s outlook is inflation lingering above 3%, which would spark discussion about the need for further rate hikes. 

It sees monetary policy as remaining data-dependent and notes that the Fed has limited room to maneuver. The central bank risks another surge in inflation by cutting rates too soon, but it also risks a prolonged recession by cutting rates too late. 

Despite this uncertainty, Vanguard believes that there will be opportunities amid higher market volatility. It recommends investors take advantage of locking in attractive yields for longer durations and sees potential for better risk-adjusted returns in bonds vs. equities. Over the next 5 years, Vanguard forecasts returns of 4.5% for stocks and 4.3% for bonds. However, bonds are expected to have one-third of the volatility of stocks at 5.2% vs. 15.8%. 


Finsum: Vanguard shared its quarterly active fixed income outlook. The firm is downgrading its expectations for rate cuts in 2024, given recent economic data. Instead, it sees more opportunities in other parts of the fixed-income market.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Saturday, 18 May 2024 13:00

Fixed Income Sector Thriving

2024 has proven to be a year of relentless volatility for fixed income, given mixed signals about inflation, the economy, and monetary policy. However, there are plenty of opportunities to make money amid these conditions. 

A consequence of high rates is that the US government is expected to pay more than $1 trillion in interest to bondholders this year, which is more than double the average from the previous decade. Currently, all Treasury securities are yielding more than 4%, and due to elevated rates, investors have a higher margin of safety. This means that fixed income is once again a source of meaningful income for investors and serves as a counterweight to equities.

Deal flow also remains robust, which is a positive for underwriters and sponsors. According to Bloomberg, bankers who underwrite bond offerings are expected to see a 25% increase in bonuses. In terms of sales and trading, bonuses are expected to rise by 20%, compared to an increase of 5% to 15% for equities. 

Another trend in fixed income is the electronication of the bond market. Traditionally, bond trading has been done over the phone or through banks, which has resulted in illiquidity and less price discovery. 

Now, volume is moving to electronic bond exchanges, which is benefiting market makers like Citadel Securities and Jane Street. These firms are now making markets in government and corporate bonds. It’s estimated that 42% of investment-grade debt trades were electronic last year, compared to 31% in 2021.


Finsum: Entering the year, many were confident that Fed rate cuts would fuel a bull market in bonds. This has failed to materialize, but there have been opportunities in fixed income.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
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