Investors have been wary of tech stocks as of late and instead are parking their money in investment-grade corporate bond funds. This week the sector garnered a whopping $2.9 billion in inflows which is the biggest week since July, over six months ago. Markets are expecting the Fed to hike this year, which means borrowing rates will start to hurt the growth-oriented stock, and the Nasdaq slumped to its worst start since 2008 as a result. However, the rising yields are also pushing more investors into relatively riskless corporate debt. Junk bonds didn’t get the same bump as many indices were down with a hawkish Fed.
Finsum: Don’t sell on tech stocks just yet, but it could be a bearish year for the number one market segment the last year if the Fed hikes four times!
ETFs saw a record performance in 2022 as inflows almost reached 1 trillion dollars, and while equity brought in over 60% of the inflows the second half was dominated by the fixed income market. This momentum in fixed income is expected to swell in 2022, particularly for the active ETF funds. Driving that those trending figures are the outperformance of active funds over passive funds, and an almost peak interest rate and inflation uncertainty. This sort of bourgeoning inflation and constricting Fed is unprecedented for the post-Volcker era. Active Issuers like T. Rowe price are very bullish on their prospects in the upcoming year.
FINSUM: While active funds haven’t brought home major returns they are getting better yield than passive funds and more diversity rather than piling on U.S. government securities.
Saying the bond market is difficult would be more than an understatement, and while yields are creeping it's still hard to get the historic performance. However, many investors are turning to active fixed income ETFs. This has led to a swelling of inflows into the market category making up 16% of ETF inflows in 2021 through October. Turmoil at the Fed and the continual threat of a taper tantrum have many investors looking to pros to sort out the difficulties in the bond market. Active FI ETFs can also fit narrower targets and accommodate the rapidly shifting macroeconomic environment.
FINSUM: Seasoned veterans at the helm make the most sense when the environment is shifting, and active ETF can edge out when the future is uncertain.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is the latest financial firm to sell debt in the U.S. Bond Market, joining the likes of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup Inc.. JPMorgan is selling over $3 billion in bonds with a yield of .97 percentage points over the U.S. Treasuries and 11 year maturity. The flood in financial bonds is a result of the strong earnings posted by the financial industry in the last quarter. Goldman leads the pack with over $9 Billion in new debt issuance. However, some say JPMorgan is the most susceptible to issuance pressure from regulators with debt issuance driving leverage.
FINSUM: Don’t let balance sheet risk get anyone worried, because post 2008 leverage ratios are closely monitored and almost ensure fiscal support pending financial risk.
The bond market seems to have lost all touch with reality. Yields are extremely low, and given the more relaxed inflation reading this month, seem likely to stay pinned. Now consider this: European corporate debt real yields just turned negative. Yes, you are paying for the privilege of holding corporate debt. The ICE BofA index of European high-yield bonds is now at 2.34%, well below inflation.
FINSUM: Is there were ever a sign of a peak, this is it. Bond yields have nowhere to go but up, as there is no defensible logic that they could sustainably move lower. Unfortunately, it seems as though bonds and equity could move hand in hand, as the catalyst for big losses would be the Fed, which would trigger both asset classes.