Bond Investors Lose Cash as Yields Rise

Last week, the yield on 5-year, 10-year, and 30-year US Treasury bonds rose and the return of the Morningstar US Corporate Bond Index year-to-date total return has dropped to a loss 

Dave Sekera, CFA 9 June, 2015 | 12:32PM
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Rising interest rates have pushed investment-grade returns into negative territory year to date. Last week, the yield on 5-year, 10-year, and 30-year Treasury bonds rose 25, 28, and 23 basis points, respectively to 1.74%, 2.40%, and 3.11%. As interest rates have risen to their highest yields thus far this year, the return of Morningstar Corporate Bond Index year-to-date total return has dropped to a loss of 0.48%. However, with its lower duration, and higher carry from much wider credit spreads, the return of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II Index remains positive at 3.29%.

In the investment-grade space, the average spread of the Morningstar Corporate Bond Index held steady last week at +140 basis points and in the high yield space, the average spread widened 4 basis points to +456. Credit spreads were under pressure most of the week because of technical pressures as dealers looked to lighten up the amount of inventory that has built up on their books over the past few months.

While the new issue market slowed down as the summer slowdown takes hold, activity was brisk in the secondary market. Dealers reportedly sold over $3.5 billion worth of bonds from their inventory over the course of the week, with over one third of the volume consisting of long-duration bonds. Once the average yield on 30-year corporate bonds rose back above 4.50%, demand increased for this long-duration paper from insurance companies and pension funds.

With the rise in interest rates, the all-in yield of the Morningstar Corporate Bond Index rose to 3.28%, its highest yield since September 2013. Although still lower than to where it spiked at the end of last year, the yield in the high yield index rose to 6.29%. The higher all-in yields have begun to pique investor interest as indicated by high yield fund flows for mutual funds and ETFs, which rose by $1.3 billion last week, its strongest weekly inflow since early February.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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About Author

Dave Sekera, CFA  Dave Sekera, CFA, is chief U.S. market strategist for Morningstar.

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