This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.
A volatile end to 2018 saw many investors seek bonds as a defensive play to shield themselves of the constant market oscillations. In particular, Treasury notes saw an influx of investor capital as a result of a shift to a risk-off sentiment, but China and Japan have been reducing their holdings of U.S. debt within the past year.
After the election of U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016, China and Japan increased their portfolio of U.S. debt, but that has taken a different course the last 12 months.
"Following the 2016 election, China increased its U.S. bond holdings substantially," wrote Simon Lack of SL Advisors. "Japan was more cautious. But both have been reducing them over the past year. China’s moves have been more recent, and coincide with the growing trade spat. Interestingly, there’s been no discernible impact on bond yields."
Both China and Japan could be losing their confidence in the U.S. as stocks continue to fall. Of course, there's also the known unknown--ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China--a trigger event that could send markets surging against and restore confidence in U.S. debt.
2018 saw the Dow fall 5.6 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 6.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite fell 4 percent–the worst year for stocks since the financial crisis more than 10 years ago. December alone resulted in the Dow falling 8.7 percent and the S&P 500 losing 9 percent, making it the worst December since 1931.
Part of the blame can go to rising interest rates--four rate hikes were instituted by the central bank in 2018. A more dovish Fed following the last rate hike in December could pare down the number of rate hikes even more.
"Although the Fed is expecting to raise rates twice next year (2019), bond yields continue to forecast less than that," Lack noted. "For fixed income investors, it continues to be hard to beat inflation after taxes. Equities are cheap as shown recently by the Equity Risk Premium (see Stocks Are the Cheapest Since 2012). The American Energy Independence Index yields 6.9%. Bonds are unlikely to provide much value."
For more market trends, visit ETF Trends.
POPULAR ARTICLES AND RESOURCES FROM ETFTRENDS.COM
- SPY ETF Quote
- VOO ETF Quote
- QQQ ETF Quote
- VTI ETF Quote
- JNUG ETF Quote
- Top 34 Gold ETFs
- Top 34 Oil ETFs
- Top 57 Financials ETFs
- Markets Close Out 2018 in the Green as Dow Gains Over 250 Points
- Natural Gas ETFs Gap Lower on Milder Week-End Temperatures
- Opportunities Abound in 2019 Following a Stormy 2018
- Five Questions: Behavior in Investing With Dr. Daniel Crosby
- ETF Investors Sift Through the Wreckage for 2019 Plays