Bonds: Total Market
With rates rising and yields finally responding in a big way, you may have been wondering which ETFs tend to perform well in such periods. With that in mind, here is a list of the best performing ETFs in periods of rising rates (since 2008). The stats are from thirty day periods of rising rates, which have occurred 18 times since 2008. The best four are: VanEck Vector Oil Services ETF (6.53% average gain), the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (4.9%), the United States Oil Fund ETF (4.54%), and the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (3%).
FINSUM: Oil and banking, not really a surprise, but certainly a good reminder for investors. The worst performing funds in the same period tended to be gold funds.
If rising rates weren’t scaring you a week ago, they surely are now, as the weight of rate rises has finally hit markets in a big way. With that said, here are some ETFs to help offset or benefit from rate hikes. Vanguard’s Short-Term Bond ETF (BSV) is a good bet, with an expense ratio of just 0.07% and a yield of about 3%. Another interesting one is the Invesco Senior Loan ETF (BKLN). The loans underlying this fund have their yields reset every 30 to 90 days, so your payout keeps rising with the market. The fund yields 4.19% and costs 0.65%. Lastly, take a look at the Fidelity’s Dividend ETF for Rising Rates (FDRR), which focuses on dividend growth stocks, a group that has historically performed well during periods of rising rates.
FINSUM: This a nice group of options, all of which are quite different from each other.
Many are worried the bond market turmoil will grow worse. Bonds sold off fiercely last week, and the US jobs report, while not as great as expected, still reinforced the fact that rates are headed higher as the economy strengthens. However, many economists and analysts think the rise in yields will abate or even reverse in the coming weeks. Yields are at 3.23% on the ten-year Treasury now, but the average forecast of 58 economists surveyed says they will end the year at 3.08%. Even the worst bond market bears, like Goldman Sachs, think yields will only rise gradually to finish the year at 3.4%.
FINSUM: Our personal view is that yields had their big move upward and will probably now trade in a band at least until the next Fed meeting.
The whole market is generally afraid of rising rates. Both in 2015 and 2018, there were significant mini-meltdowns about the prospect of aggressive rate rises. One of the aspects that most worries investors is that higher rates will drive participants out of stocks and into higher-yielding bonds. However, while true in some respects, that narrative is far too simple. Higher rates are a symptom of a healthy and growing economy, which means the business fundamentals driving stocks are getting better, a factor which is likely far more important than incremental changes in rates.
FINSUM: We think there is some wisdom in these words, especially as they perfectly encapsulate what has happened with the market this year.
There has been a lot of focus in the media lately about rising rates and what they will mean for investor portfolios. The ten-year yield is now well over 3% again, and the Fed looks likely to hike twice more before the end of the year. If your fixed income exposure (and equity exposure) isn’t carefully hedge, it could spell losses. Accordingly, here are three ETFs to help offset rate risk: the SPDR Blmbg Barclays Inv Grd Flt Rt ETF (FLRN), the iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF (FLOT), and the ProShares High Yield—Interest Rate Hdgd (HYHG). The first two rely on floating rate bonds of short maturities, while the ProShares fund goes long corporate bonds and short Treasuries.
FINSUM: The performance of these kind of hedged ETFs has been good since rates started rising a couple years ago. They seem to have an important role to play in portfolios right now.
Rising rates are definitively upon us. The Fed is poised to hike very soon and is likely to do so again before the end of the year. Some popular sectors, especially those with good dividends—REITs, utilities, telecoms—can suffer badly in rising rate periods. Luckily there are several ETFs that can help advisors hedge their exposure. The most common rate hedged ETFs are bond-based and use a strategy of buying higher-yielding corporate bonds and hedging their rate risk by short-selling Treasuries. The strategy seems to work well. For instance, the iShares Interest Rate Hedged Corporate Bond ETF (LQDH) gained about 11% between the 10-year Treasury’s low in July 2016 to now, while its unhedged cousin, the iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) lost 0.45%.
FINSUM: That is quite a margin between the two funds, which is a testament to how well the strategy performs in rising rate periods. There are several similar funds out there, and they seem like a good idea right now.