Investing

Bond Market: The month that was November 2018

  • 07.DEC.2018
  • Ian Martin,  XTB

November 2018: A Month in Review – Risk On, Risk Off, Repeat

The roller coaster of speculation on trade wars continued. A new feature of the market was comments by the US Federal Reserve Chairman that rates might be approaching neutral. These comments combined with concerns about trade wars meant US bond yields fell (prices rose). Australian rates remain unchanged to very slightly higher. 

Review of the US Market

The US 10-year bond ended the month at 2.99% with an intra-month high of 3.23% (the same level reached during October). The closing level compares with an October close of 3.12%. For the US market, the future effects of trade wars created a risk off tone for the second half of the month. For the bond market, this risk off tone magnified the effect of the Fed Chairman’s comments that interest rates may be approaching their neutral level. The market commentary therefore moved to speculating on fewer future interest rate hikes by the Fed than currently expected. The lack of certainty of Fed actions caused bonds to trade to the bottom end in yield of their short-term trading range (higher prices). It must be considered that this could be affected by a change in positioning by the market.

Review of the Australian Market

The RBA remains on hold. The RBA Cash Rate for December 2019 was indicating 1.60%, down 0.01% from the end of October. Many commentators are calling for RBA rates to be on hold until 2020.

The 10-year Australian bond finished 1bps higher in yield at 2.59% with slightly lower prices. Therefore, Australian bonds ignored the rally in the US and focused on the static RBA expectations.

The 3-year government bond’s yield also rose (prices lower) by 3bps to 2.01%. For Australian bonds to fall it seems new economic data affecting the domestic economy is required.

What about corporate bonds and BBSW?

Credit spreads, or the premium required to hold a corporate bond instead of a government bond, were slightly higher. The corporate bond index implies that credit spreads moved on average 5 bps higher. The change in premium was small enough that corporate bonds only slightly underperformed government bonds.

3 month BBSW was higher moving from 1.92% to 1.95%.

As we have discussed, the new levels of BBSW are starting to reflect in higher borrowing rates from bank customers. This in turn is putting a constraint on the economy even though the RBA is not changing its official rate.

Index Performance

 

Source Bloomberg and Australian Corporate Bond Company

 

The Bloomberg AusBond Composite Index for all maturities (the common benchmark) produced a small positive return of 0.07% for the month. This reflected slightly higher yields (lower prices) being off-set by income earned during the month..

The Treasury Index (government bonds) for all maturities which is the single largest contributor to the Composite Index produced a positive return of 0.08%.

The Credit Index (corporate bonds) for all maturities produced a smaller positive return of 0.02%. This is due to the fact that the premium required for holding corporate bonds increased slightly. When comparing corporate bonds to government bonds of the same maturity, corporate bonds generally under-performed their government equivalents as defined by the sub-indexes above.

 

Disclaimer
The information in this article is general in nature. It should not be the sole source of information. It does not take into account the investment objectives or circumstances of any particular investor. You should consider, with or without advice from a professional adviser, whether an investment is appropriate to your circumstances. Australian Corporate Bond Company Limited is the Securities Manager of XTBs and will earn fees in connection with an investment in XTBs.

Events

  • 03Jun 2019

    YTMANZ: ANZ 3.25% 03 JUN 2020

    This is the coupon date

  • 03Jun 2019

    YTMF10: NAB BBSW + 0.80% 03 JUN 2020

    This is the coupon date

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