Bonds: Total Market

(New York)

This is a tough time to be buying bonds. Prices have become very rich over the last several years and on top of sky high valuations and low yields the risk of rising rates causing big losses is high as the Fed sticks to its hawkish path. With that in mind, floating rate bonds and ETFs are a good strategy to combat the situation, as their yields rise as the market’s do. Most also invest in short-term bonds to lessen interest rate risk. Two of the most popular floating rate ETFs are the iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF (FLOT) and SPDR Blmbg Barclays Inv Grd Flt Rt ETF (FLRN). Both hold floating rate bonds with maturities of 5 years and under.

FINSUM: These seem like good options. The one downside to these ETF is that yields are quite low given their conservative nature, but they obviously have great downside protection.

(New York)

The Fed looks set for another hike in September, and likely another before the end of the year. That means that fixed income is a very tricky market, as many bonds will likely see losses. So how can one protect their portfolio but still earn reliable income? One option is to buy floating rate bonds. Luckily, there are several funds that can help investors own floating rate bonds. Some of them include the Fidelity Floating Rate High Income (4.36% yield), the iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF, the BlackRock Floating Rate Income Strategies Fund, or the Eaton Vance Floating Rate Income Fund.

FINSUM: We think floating rate bonds seem like a good strategy for the current environment. Just be careful of high credit risk in some of these funds.

(New York)

You wouldn’t usually think of muni bonds when you are looking for juicy yields (at least not investment grade munis). However, if you look further out on the yield curve, there are some very interesting bonds. For instance, there are AAA rated 15-year munis yielding 2.7%, up from 2.2% earlier this year. Comparable two-year munis have just 1.7% yields, representing a 100 basis point spread versus the treasury market’s 29 bp spread. This is the steepest the muni yield curve has been since 2000, which creates opportunity at the long end of the curve.

FINSUM: Most advisors will be aware that even with the currently low yields in munis, the tax exemption for high income clients make the bonds very attractive, so this is just icing on the cake.

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