Displaying items by tag: yields
The stronger than expected jobs report and inflation data have punctured the narrative that the Fed was going to imminently embark on a series of rate cuts. As a result, volatility has spiked in fixed income as the market has dialed back expectations for the number of hikes in 2024.
Investors can still take advantage of the attractive yields in bonds while managing volatility with the American Century Short Duration Strategic Income ETF (SDSI) and the Avantis Short-Term Fixed Income ETF (AVSF). Both offer higher yields than money markets while also being less exposed to interest rate risk which has led to steeper losses in longer-duration bonds YTD.
SDSI is an active fund with over 200 holdings and an expense ratio of 0.33%. Its current 30-day yield is 5.2%. The ETF’s primary focus is generating income by investing in short-duration debt in multiple segments such as notes, government securities, asset-backed securities, mortgage-backed securities, and corporate bonds.
AVSF is even more diversified with more than 300 holdings and has a lower expense ratio at 0.15%. It has a 4.7% 30-day yield. AVSF invests in short-duration, investment-grade debt from US and non-US issuers. The fund’s aim is to invest in bonds that offer the highest expected returns by analyzing a bond’s income and capital appreciation potential.
Finsum: Recent developments have led to a material increase in fixed income volatility. Investors can shield themselves from this volatility while still taking advantage of attractive yields with short-duration bond ETFs.
Recent economic data and tea leaves from Fed officials have resulted in more challenging conditions for fixed income. Essentially, there is much less certainty about the timing and direction of the Fed’s next move as economic data and inflation have been more robust than expected.
According to Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street, this presents an opportunity with high-yield bonds given that yields are at attractive levels while a strong economy indicates that defaults will remain low. So far this year, high-yield bonds have outperformed with a slight positive return, while the iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) and Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) are down YTD.
This is a contrarian trade as high-yield bond ETFs have had $387 million of outflows YTD, while fixed income ETFs have had $2.8 billion of net inflows YTD. It’s also a way for fixed income investors to bet that the US economy continues to defy skeptics and avoid a recession despite the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes.
Currently, high-yield bonds have an average spread of 338 basis points vs Treasuries. Many of the most popular high-yield ETFs have effective durations between 3 and 4 years which means there is less rate risk. Spreads have remained relatively tight and could widen in the event of the economy slowing.
Finsum: High-yield ETFs are offering an interesting opportunity given attractive yields. This segment of the fixed income market also is benefiting from recently strong economic data which indicates that default rates will remain low.
Bonds and stocks weakened following a stronger than expected January CPI report which led traders to reduce bets on the number of rate cuts in 2024. The 10Y Treasury yield climbed 15 basis points, while the 2Y yield was up 19 basis points.
On a monthly basis, prices were up 0.3% vs expectations of 0.2%. Annually, there was an uptick at 3.1% vs expectations of 2.9%. Food and shelter prices were major contributors with gains of 0.4% and 0.6%, respectively. Along with the recent jobs report, the data undermined the notion that the Fed would be turning dovish later this year. The anticipation of a Fed pivot has been a major catalyst, fueling strength in equities and fixed income over the last couple of months.
Instead, the status quo of ‘higher for longer’ remains. Some investors are now anticipating that the 10Y yield will rise further. According to Skyler Weinand, chief investment officer at Regan Capital, “Bond yields have not peaked, and we believe that a 10-year Treasury yield with a 5-handle is more likely than a 3-handle in 2024. Persistent inflation, full employment and strong growth may delay the Fed’s rate cuts.”
Finsum: Stocks and bonds declined as the January CPI came in hotter than expected. Fed futures showed traders reduced estimates for the number of rate cuts in 2024.
AllianceBernstein believes that the rally in fixed income will continue due to central banks cutting rates. Thus, investors should take advantage of the opportunity to lock in yields at these levels.
The firm sees the Fed as remaining on hold until the second-half of the year. It sees the current environment as opportune given that rates will decline over the intermediate-term, while yields remain historically attractive in the interim.
Despite expectations of slowing economic growth in the second-half of the year, AllianceBernstein isn’t concerned of a major downturn in the credit cycle as earnings remain robust, while household finances remain in strong shape despite some stress in recent months.
Overall, the firm recommends that investors consider getting fully invested into fixed income especially given that many investors are in cash or short-duration bonds. This strategy made sense over the last couple of years but no longer does given where we are in the cycle.
Instead, investors need to increase duration given its base case expectation of slowing economic growth and materially lower rates over the next 12 to 18 months. It also recommends corporate credit and securitized debt given attractive yields and solid fundamentals.
Finsum: AllianceBernstein is bullish on fixed income in 2024 due to its expectations that the Fed will cut and the economy will slow. It recommends taking advantage of yields while they remain high and extending duration.
The combination of tighter money and falling valuations have led private equity sales of portfolio companies to their lowest levels since 2009. Now with some signs of thawing in markets, private equity firms are looking to exit positions and return money to investors.
It’s led to a negative cycle for the industry. The lack of exits has adversely impacted investors’ willingness to pledge money for new funds which has hampered the industry’s ability to make deals.
According to Per Franzen, the head of private capital for Europe and North America at EQT AB, “Private equity players have to face reality at some point. They need to invest remaining capital and go back to the market to raise new funds, which means a need to drive exits and improve distributions.” Reportedly, some big deals are on the horizon such as Hellman & Friedman looking to sell its energy data platform, Enervus, KKR exiting car park operator, Q-Park, and Carlyle finding a buyer for luxury watch parts manufacturer, Acrotec Group
Another consideration is upcoming elections which could complicate efforts to exit positions. This increases the urgency to make moves in the first half of the year. There are also expectations that private equity could be looking to take advantage of any dislocations or discounts as the industry has $1.4 trillion in cash on the sidelines.
Finsum: Private equity firms are looking to exit positions in the coming months in order to return cash to investors.