1Q 2019 Fixed Income Markets
Bond investors in 1Q 2019 were treated to falling yields and an equity-like credit rally as central banks worked to keep the economic plates spinning. The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index posted a total return of 2.20%, driven by US aggregate bonds (+2.94%) that marked their best quarterly result in three years and their second-best since 3Q 2011.
While bond investors received peripheral encouragement from mild inflation and economic data that – while articulating a global growth slowdown – was less negative than feared, the Fed was the overall driver of results across capital markets in 1Q. In November the Fed futures market was predicting three rate increases in 2019; by the end of March it was pricing in a 30% probability of a rate cut by the end of 2019 and a 70% probability of an easing by the end of 2020. This dovish shift in global monetary policy put a spring in the step of capital markets overall. By February, in fact, global bond prices were partially retracing gains on the fear that the Fed might reconsider its “patient” strategy in light of the bounce-back in asset prices, economic data and consumer sentiment. By March, however, policy was pointed firmly towards accommodation and global yields were falling once again.
For most of 1Q the US 10-year yield was range-bound despite all of the activity in capital markets, but March saw the measure break below 2.5% to end at 2.42% – the lowest level since 1Q 2018. Credit spreads rose, but only as a function of the 30 bp decline in the 10-year. High yield put up 7.26% in 1Q and, at +5.93%, is notably on par with the S&P 500 Value trailing one year. AA-rated bonds (+3.69%) enjoyed their best quarter since 2010.
Outside the US, European sovereigns rallied (+1.52%) on the ECB’s plans to defer tightening until at least next year and in the meantime consider measures to support the banking sector and counteract the drag of negative rates. England – while in decent shape from a labor and activity perspective – nonetheless saw its central bank defer action pending resolution on Brexit. Emerging sovereigns (+3.09%) enjoyed the impacts of easing both domestically and globally, continuing to find encouragement in the currency tailwind implied by Fed action.
Index Returns – all shown in US dollars
All returns shown trailing 3/31/2019 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.
Key Rates are shown for US Treasurys 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 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 10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Securities and 10-Year Treasury Inflation–Indexed Constant Maturity Securities to derive expected inflation.
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This material is proprietary and being provided on a confidential basis, and may not be reproduced, transferred or distributed in any form without prior written permission from WST. WST reserves the right at any time and without notice to change, amend, or cease publication of the information. This material has been prepared solely for informative purposes. The information contained herein includes information that has been obtained from third party sources and has not been independently verified. It is made available on an “as is” basis without warranty and does not represent the performance of any specific investment .Some of the information enclosed may represent opinions of WST and are subject to change from time to time and do not constitute a recommendation to purchase and sale any security nor to engage in any particular investment strategy. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed for accuracy. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Securities and services are not FDIC or any other government agency insured – Are not bank guaranteed – May lose Value.
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