May 2019 Fixed Income Market Review
Core global bonds rallied in May as risk-asset investors digested a mix of sour political tones and an escalation of trade hostilities between the US and China. With global equities selling off (down 6% globally, with emerging markets suffering the worst) and global central banks still tilting accommodative, the Global Aggregate Bond Index rose 1.35%, led by the US Aggregate Bond Index (+1.78%). The dollar strengthened as investors piled into “safe” sovereign debt, while emerging markets debt (-0.09%) modestly extended losses from the prior month.
US Treasury yields sank during May, with the 10-year yield marking its ninth-largest monthly decline (in percentage terms) in forty years. Among broad indices the current 10-year index is the runaway leader on a trailing 1-year basis, up over 9%. While parts of the US yield curve have been inverted since 4Q 2018, May’s shift saw the 10-year slip below the yield on the 3-month T-bill, marking a depth that seemed to command investor attention even as views evolve on the predictive power of this indicator relative to economic recession.
As compared with recent history May saw interesting divergence between US credit segments. After months of fretful association with excessive debt-to-GDP figures and diminishing quality, the BBB (just-above-junk) segment rose 1.23%, more closely aligned with higher-quality investment-grade than with high yield (-1.19%) – which, unsurprisingly, shared in the risk-asset selloff. High yield correlations with the S&P 500 continued to tick higher and when measured at roughly .89 on a trailing 12-month basis, the strength of that relationship is in the 97th percentile relative to since-inception index history. After trending higher for the last several years, the US Aggregate-S&P 500 relationship has retraced back to its historical average, principally reflecting downside mitigation in recent sell-off events.
May’s risk sell-off curbed the slump for European sovereigns overall (+0.20%), but results were mixed on a country basis. In Italy, political developments seem to threaten a fragile budgetary peace between lawmakers and the EU; the April rally proved short-lived for Italian bonds, and they shed well over a percentage point in May. On the flipside of that trade, the German Sovereign Bond Index added roughly 83 basis points, shifting the yield curve further into negative territory and helping expand to 20% the share of negative-yielding debt in the global aggregate bond index.
Index Returns – all shown in US dollars
All returns shown trailing 5/31/2019 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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