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Senior Loan ETFs Bolstered by Solid Economic Numbers

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

High yields and floating rates are among the factors drawing investors to senior loans and related exchange traded funds, such as the PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (BKLN) . Strong domestic economic data are also supporting the asset class.

“Floating-rate leveraged loans remain the hottest segment of the fixed-income market. The Credit Suisse Leveraged Loan index was up 4.46 percent through Oct. 11. High-yield funds are experiencing outflows this year, but cash continues to pour into leveraged loan funds,” reports CNBC.

The $7.43 billion BKLN targets the S&P/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan 100 Index. That index “is designed to track the market-weighted performance of the largest institutional leveraged loans based on market weightings, spreads and interest payments,” according to Invesco.

Due to their floating rate component, bank loans are seen as an attractive alternative to traditional high-yield corporate bonds in a rising rate environment. Bank loan securities allow their interest rate to shift, or float, along with the rest of the market, whereas a fixed interest rate stays constant until maturity.

Bank loans are slightly safer than traditional high-yield bonds since they are secured by collateral and have historically shown lower default rates.

Rising Rates Help

Rising interest rates have chastened some high-yield bond investors, prompting those market participants to embrace senior loans.

“With floating rates pegged to the three-month LIBOR, leveraged loans made to non-investment-grade companies protect against rising interest rates. They also retain seniority in the capital structure over bonds,” according to CNBC.

Related: Emerging Market Bond ETFs Take the Lead in a Volatile Week

Over the past 30 days, investors have added $69.63 million to BKLN, a total surpassed by just four other Invesco ETFs.

Because rates are typically reset once per quarter, senior loans typically have low durations. Since the senior loans have rates that adjust periodically, the floating-rate loans also offer investors an alternative method of earning yields while mitigating interest-rate risk.

Related: Top 56 High Yield Bond ETFs

Senior “loans are callable, and when demand is as strong as it has been for the last year, companies regularly refinance on better terms even as rates are rising,” notes CNBC.

For more information on the fixed-income space, visit our bond ETFs category.

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