Corporate bond investors are still reeling as economic recovery picks up

One year ago, financial markets were down when coronavirus spread across the globe.

The Federal Reserve had cut interest rates to support the staggering U.S. economy. The yield on 10-year financial bonds – the metric linchpin for markets – had fallen below 1 percent for the first time ever earlier this month, when investors entered the reserve fund. And higher-quality corporate bonds were thought to have hit a nadir investment rate on March 20 as concerns about firms ’vulnerabilities rose.

One year on, with the spread of coronavirus vaccines hoping for an economic recovery boosted by fiscal stimulus, corporate bond investors remain unhappy.

Investment-grade corporate bonds have suffered a total loss of 4.8 percent for the year to Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve’s board of governors met to announce revisions to its monetary policy framework. That marked the worst start to the year in data dating back to the early 1980s, according to an index run by Ice Data Services.

At the same time last year, the market was down 4.5 percent for the year, with coronavirus sales gaining momentum in the following days. However, this is a somewhat similar outcome as the economy is now in recovery, not a crisis.

After chewing the rapid and widespread response of the U.S. Federal Reserve a year ago that saved corporate debt markets and helped offset their losses, investors are now lamenting the one of those policy measures is eating into their results this year.

Fearing that rising inflation cuts into the yields of fixed-income debt, investors want details of when emergency measures such as the Fed’s bond purchase program will be implemented. phared.

However, on Wednesday, the Fed gave them little comfort. While acknowledging developments in the US economy and quickly revising its growth forecasts, the central bank decided to put emergency policy measures in place so that further “substantial” progress could be made. .

“The Fed needs to rebalance the emergency policy options it put in place last year,” said Bob Miller, head of U.S.-based revenues at BlackRock. “If the food remains stable about rebalancing, I think that could lead to more volatility.”

Part of the problem for credit investors lies in just how unusually fast the recovery has been.

Growth and inflation are expected as the U.S. economy reopens on the rise, pushing government bond yields higher. That is further supported by new fiscal stimulus from the U.S. government, and the Fed’s continued easy monetary policy stance.

The U.S. Treasury 10-year march rallied up last week after a Fed meeting, hitting its highest level since January last year.

Typically, this would be accompanied by a decline in credit spreads, or the price above the yield of government bonds that required investors to lend to companies, as confidence in corporate America returned. But spreads are already very low, slowed by Fed support for the market creating early confidence in companies ’ability to repay their raspberry debt raised last year.

While this may be read as generally positive, for investors it leaves little room for acceptance of the increase in interest rates associated with overcoming it. Rising Financial yields lead directly to rising corporate borrowing costs, and falling corporate bond prices. Yield rate corporate bond yields have risen from 1.78 percent to 2.31 percent this year, even though spreads are virtually unchanged.

The effect is further proven by the better performance of lower quality bands with higher yield. In fact, debt is at its lowest level so far this year as it has carried the highest spread above the already strained Treasury yield. the outlook for the most risky lenders has improved.

However, there are signs that even this case is wearing thin, with high – yield bonds sitting just above zero for the year, down from more than 1.4 percent in mid – February.

Investors had been hoping the Fed recognized the risks posed by a rise in Treasury yields when the central bank met this week, fearing the sale could accelerate.

Sadly for bond investors, the Fed’s result is not the Treasury’s only concern. It remains unaffected by what it sees as the pressure of transitional inflation, focusing instead on strengthening support for an older economic recovery.

The U.S. unemployment rate remains at 6.8 percent, and while inflation is expected to rise, year-over-year inflation was just 1.4 percent last month, still below the Fed’s target of 2 percent .

Following last Friday’s March 20 nature for corporate bonds, the Federal Reserve announced sweeping measures to push markets forward the following Monday. One year on, the Fed has so far been so willing to come to investor support.

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