Displaying items by tag: corporate credit

Tuesday, 30 January 2024 03:11

Is It Time to Lock in Yields?

In 2024, the major market narrative has certainly shifted from whether the Fed will cut or hike to when and how much the Fed will cut. According to Steve Laipply, BlackRock’s Global Co-Head of Bond ETFs, it’s a good time to lock in yields. Currently, investors can achieve yields of 4% in low-risk, diversified bond funds which is quite attractive relative to recent history. 

During the previous cycle, investors would have to buy riskier high-yield bonds to achieve such income. Overall, he believes that investors have been overly risk averse during this tightening cycle, and most are underexposed to the asset class. Despite the recent rally, there are plenty of opportunities to capture generous yields with lower levels of risk. Further, fixed income would benefit if the economy weakened further, and inflation continues to lose steam. 

While investors can get even higher yields in the front-end of the curve or with certificates of deposit, Laipply doesn’t see this as a prudent approach given underlying macroeconomic trends, and the Fed’s dovish tilt in the new year. He recommends that investors choose a diversified, broad bond fund like the iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF or an active fund like the Blackrock Flexible Income Fund.

Finsum: According to Steve Laipply, Blackrock’s Global Co-head of Bond ETFs, investors should lock in yields given the rising chance of a recession, slowing inflation, and a dovish Fed in 2024.


Published in Bonds: Total Market
Thursday, 25 January 2024 05:42

Dispersion in Fixed Income Performance in 2023

Taking a look back at the previous year can reveal some interesting lessons for fixed income investors. Overall, fixed income finished the year in the green as inflation finally started to ease. This led the Federal Reserve to pause interest rate hikes, and expectations are for it to start cutting rates sometime next year, resulting in the Bloomberg Aggregate US Bond ETF finishing up 5.5% last year. 


However, there was considerable variance in performance across the curve and within different sectors. The best-performing segment was CCC-rated corporate debt which finished the year up 20.1%. 


While the combination of low defaults and falling interest rates is a bullish combination for high-yield debt, this variance in performance also highlights the importance of selection. To this end, BondBloxx offers fixed income ETFs that target specific sectors and credit ratings. 


The BondBloxx CCC-Rated USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF offers exposure to CCC-rated corporate debt. The firm also offers high-yield fixed income ETFs that provide exposure to specific sectors such as consumer cyclicals, or telecom, media & technology. In total, BondBloxx has 20 different ETFs with a cumulative total of $2.5 billion in assets. It’s known for its innovation in providing more targeted investment vehicles. 

Finsum: 2023 saw fixed income performance that was in-line with historical averages. However, there was considerable dispersion within the asset class. For instance, CCC-rated corporate debt finished the year up more than 20%. 

Published in Wealth Management
Thursday, 25 January 2024 05:36

What to Expect for Fixed Income in 2024

Entering 2023, the consensus was that fixed income would outperform. This turned out to be incorrect as the economy and inflation proved to be more resilient than expected. For the year, the Bloomberg US Aggregate Index returned 5.5% which is in-line with the average return although the bulk of gains came in the final months of the year.  


As the calendar turns, the consensus is once again that the Fed is going to be embarking on rate cuts. Currently, the market expects 6 cuts before year-end which means there is room for downside in the event that the Fed doesn’t cut as aggressively. According to Bernstein, this may be premature as the firm sees many reasons for upward pressure on yields including inflation re-igniting, heavy amounts of Treasury debt issuance, and an acceleration of economic growth. 


Bernstein recommends that investors eschew more expensive parts of fixed income like high-grade corporate debt. Many are unprepared for a scenario where spreads tighten or rates fall less than expected. Instead, it favors segments that would benefit from stronger growth like preferred securities and AAA collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). The firm also likes TIPS and the 2Y Treasury as these offer attractive yields and inflation protection. 

Finsum: While most of Wall Street is bullish on fixed income in 2024, Bernstein is more cautious due to its expectations that rates will fall less than expected, while valuations are not as attractive. 


Published in Bonds: Total Market

2023 was an unprecedented year for interest rate volatility. The yield on the 10-year reached a low of 3.3% in April following the regional banking crisis, peaked at 5% in October, and finished the year at 3.8% following a series of supportive inflation data.

Given that inflation has declined to 3.1% which is nearly 70% less than the highest levels of 2021, the odds of a soft landing continue to rise. Currently, the Fed’s plan is to loosen financial conditions by lowering the Fed funds rate, while it continues to shrink its balance sheet.

Part of the plan should also be to reduce bond market volatility especially since it has doubled over the past 2 years and remains elevated relative to norms. In some respects, elevated bond market volatility is a consequence of the Fed’s battle against inflation. Now, it must also effectively deal with this issue before it becomes more substantial. 

Therefore, it’s likely that the Fed will cut back on its quantitative tightening program in which $95 billion worth of maturing bonds are not reinvested. Already, these efforts have succeeded in shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet by 15%. Another reason that curbing bond market volatility is necessary is that the Treasury will be auctioning off large amounts of notes and bills in the coming months. 

Finsum: The Federal Reserve has made significant strides in turning inflation lower. Now, it must take steps to reduce bond market volatility.


Published in Eq: Total Market
Tuesday, 09 January 2024 06:56

Yields Have Peaked: Schwab

2023 was a year of twists and turns for fixed income, although it ended with a big rally in the final months of the year. In 2024, Schwab Fixed Income strategist Collin Martin forecasts positive returns for the asset class and believes that yields have already peaked. Additionally, he notes that bonds are once again a diversifier against equities after an ‘anomalous’ 2022, especially at current yields. 


Despite believing that yields have peaked, he remains bullish on the asset class, noting attractive opportunities to generate substantial income. However, investors will need to be selective in terms of duration and quality. Martin recommends longer-duration securities to take advantage of higher yields even if yields are currently higher in CDs, bank deposits, or Treasury bills. This is because longer-term yields at 4% are quite attractive, and it negates interest rate risk in the event of Fed rate cuts. 


Martin added that investors should prioritize quality especially since there is no additional compensation for taking on risk in lower-rated or high-yield debt given current spreads. Therefore, stick to Treasuries or high-quality corporate debt which offer generous yields with minimal risk. Both would also outperform in the event that economic conditions further deteriorate. 

Finsum: Schwab is bullish on fixed income in 2024 although it believes that investors need to be selective in terms of quality and duration.


Published in Bonds: Total Market
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