2015 is suppose to be the year U.S. bond yields see a notable jump as the Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates. Although it's still early, the market is heading in the opposite direction. U.S. 10-year yields have dipped to around 1.89% and were even lower in mid-January, touching 1.70%. The action has been a boon for the iShares 20+Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) which hit an all-time high mid-month.
Although the bond market may be defying expectations Tom Lydon, Editor of ETF Trends, agrees with the consensus among economists that a rate hike is imminent. “We know higher rates are coming and it will probably be this year,” but what the market can’t predict is when. “Are you going to be able to time the bottom exactly? Who knows?”
One way investors can navigate this uncertainty is keeping their duration short. The Market Vectors Investment Grade Floating Rate ETF (FLTR) can achieve this strategy according to Lydon. “The duration is .1 years, so not a lot of interest rate risk there. On the contrary, you are not getting paid a lot, .65% more than a money market fund but a little bit better yield.” The average national rate on a money market account is 0.09% according to Bankrate.com
Another option, suggests Lydon, can be applied through The Market Vectors Treasury-Hedged High Yield Bond ETF (THHY) which shorts the treasury and is long high yield. “This actually has a short duration, very short, but a yield over 5%, kind of a neat scenario if your are looking at the treasury portfolio and saying I am not really that comfortable at this period in time because we know Yellen is going to be hiking rates.”
While investors try to handicap the direction of yields in the U.S., global investors got a clearer picture on Thursday. The European Central Bank jacked up its QE program announcing plans to buy €60B in public and private securities monthly through September of 2016 in efforts to revive the eurozone economy. The move, which was larger than expected, sent bond yields tumbling in Italy, Spain and Germany.