September 2020 Fixed Income Markets Review
Fixed income returns were mixed for the month of September. U.S. Treasuries, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Treasury Index, posted a positive return while the headline index and corporate credit underperformed. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate finished the month down 5 bps.
U.S. Treasury yields fell slightly during the month, with the ten-year yield falling by approximately 2 bps. U.S. Treasuries have maintained their status as a top performer for the year, posting a total return of 8.90%. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate and the Bloomberg Barclays U.S Corporate Index are not far behind with year-to-date returns of 6.79% and 6.64%, respectively. While investment grade bonds have rallied since the lows in late March, U.S. high yield has continued to stand out as the lagger. As global equities experienced negative returns during the month, high yield was not spared, with the index trading down 1.03%. The high yield index’s year-to-date total return now stands at only 62 bps. This may prove that credit investors are still wary of the rising defaults due to COVID-19.
Due to the large decline in yields since the end of 2019, interest rate risk, as measured by duration, has continued to increase for the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. As of the end of the month, the index’s duration has increased by almost 0.3 years since the beginning of 2020. If one were to look back even further, say ten years, the increase in interest rate risk is even more apparent. Following the 2008 Financial Crisis, the U.S. has significantly increased its issuance of treasury securities. As a result, the overall composition of the U.S. Aggregate has changed, with these lower coupon securities making up a substantial part of the index. Consequently, the percentage of higher yielding corporate bonds has fallen, putting downward pressure on the weighted average coupon of the entire index. Over the last ten years, the weighted average coupon has fallen from 4.35% to 2.89%. Given the inverse relationship between coupons and duration, interest rate risk has increased by approximately 1.5 years over that same time period. Furthermore, multiple rounds of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve have helped push yields lower, and thus increase duration.
While volatility within fixed income markets has fallen since March, an additional source of volatility could be the U.S. presidential election next month. Any changes in fiscal policy could potentially affect GDP growth rates as well as the Fed’s stance relating to monetary policy.
Index Returns – all shown in US dollars
All returns shown trailing 8/31/2020 for the period indicated. “YTD” refers to the total return as of prior-year end, while the other returns are annualized. 3-month and annualized returns are shown for:
- The Barclay’s US Aggregate Index, a broad based unmanaged bond index that is generally considered to be representative of the performance of the investment grade, US dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market.
- The ICE BofAML Emerging Markets Sovereign Bond Index is a subset of The BofA Merrill Lynch World Sovereign Bond Index excluding all securities with a country of risk that is a member of the FX G10, all Western European countries, and territories of the U.S. and Western European countries. The FX G10 includes all Euro members, the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden.
- The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index, which measures global investment grade debt from twenty-four local currency markets. This multi-currency benchmark includes treasury, government-related, corporate and securitized fixed-rate bonds from both developed and emerging markets issuers.
- The S&P Global Developed Sovereign Bond index includes local-currency denominated debt publicly issued by governments in their domestic markets.
- S&P Eurozone Developed Sovereign Bond – seeks to measure the performance of Eurozone government bonds.
- The S&P Pan-Europe Developed Sovereign Bond Index is a comprehensive, market-value-weighted index designed to track the performance of local currency-denominated securities publicly issued by Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and developed countries in the Eurozone for their domestic markets.
- ICE BofAML Emerging Markets Sovereign Bond – tracks the performance of US dollar (USD) and Euro denominated emerging markets non-sovereign debt publicly issued within the major domestic and Eurobond markets.
- The Bloomberg Barclay’s US Corporate Bond Index (AA), which measures the investment grade, fixed-rate, taxable corporate bond market. It includes USD denominated securities publicly issued by US and non-US industrial, utility and financial issuers.
- The Bloomberg Barclay’s US Corporate High Yield Index, which covers the USD-denominated, non-investment grade, fixed-rate, taxable corporate bond market.
- Bloomberg Barclay’s Global Aggregate Securitized- US Mortgage-Backed Securities, which is a component of the Bloomberg Barclay’s US Aggregate Index and measures investment grade mortgage backed pass-through securities of GNMA, FNMA, and FHLMC.
- Bloomberg Barclay’s Global Aggregate Securitized- US Asset-Backed Securities, which is a component of the Bloomberg Barclay’s US Aggregate Index and includes the pass-throughs, bullets, and controlled amortization structures of only the senior class of ABS issues.
- The Blomberg Barclay’s US Floating Rate Notes (<5 Yr) Index, measures the performance of U.S dollar-dominated, investment grade floating rate notes with maturities less than 5 years.
- The Bloomberg Barclay’s Municipal Bond Index, which measures investment grade, tax-exempt bonds with a maturity of at least one year.
- The S&P/ LSTA Leveraged Loan Index is designed to reflect the performance of the largest facilities in the leveraged loan market.
An index is a portfolio of specific securities, the performance of which is often used as a benchmark in judging the relative performance to certain asset classes. Index performance used throughout is intended to illustrate historical market trends and performance. Indexes are managed and do not incur investment management fees. An investor is unable to invest in an index. Their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal, and potential liquidity of the investment in a falling market. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Key Rates are shown for US Treasuries and London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the interest rate at which banks offer to lend funds (wholesale money) to one another in the international interbank market. LIBOR is a key benchmark rate that reflects how much it costs banks to borrow from each other. “Current” refers to the percentage rate as of 6/30/2018, while the rates of change are stated in basis points.
Credit Spreads shown comprise the Option-Adjusted Spread of the indices indicated, versus the US 10-Year Treasury Yield. “Current” refers to the spread as of 6/30/2018, while the rates of change are stated in basis points.
Key Indicators correspond to various macro-economic and rate-related data points that we consider impactful to fixed income markets.
- 2s10s (bps)/ 10 Yr vs 2 Yr Treasury Spread, which measures the difference between yields on 10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Securities and 2-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Securities.
- West Texas Intermediate, which is an oil benchmark and the underlying asset in the New York Mercantile Exchange’s oil futures contract.
- Core Consumer Price Index, which measures the consumer price index excluding food and energy prices. Shown as of the prior month-end.
- Breakeven Inflation: 5 Yr %/ bps, which uses a moving 30-day average of the 5-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Securities and 5-Year Treasury Inflation–Indexed Constant Maturity Securities to derive expected inflation.
- Breakeven Inflation: 10 Yr %/ bps, which uses a moving 30-day average of the 10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Securities and 10-Year Treasury Inflation–Indexed Constant Maturity Securities to derive expected inflation.
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