High-Yield, Bank Loan ETF Trades Draw Attention to Debt Markets

May 18th at 9:52am by John Spence

Large trades this month in a pair of ETFs focused on specific areas of the debt markets have drawn the attention of analysts who are questioning whether the trades were linked and if large investors are using ETFs to avoid moving prices in less-liquid markets.

On May 10, a big trade in PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (NYSEArca: BKLN) resulted in the creation of about $110.3 million worth of shares, Bloomberg News reports. [BKLN Sees Trading Volume Uptick]

Also that day, an investor exchanged as much as 19.7 million shares in the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF (NYSEArca: JNK) for the equivalent of about $779.3 million in bonds, according to the report. [Volume Spikes in High-Yield Bond ETF]

It was the biggest redemption in the history of the $11.2 billion junk bond ETF and came after the investor had acquired shares over several weeks, the article said. [Investor Uses High-Yield ETF for Camouflage]

There is speculation among investors that the JNK and BKLN trades are somehow linked.

The investment in the high-yield fund JNK “may mark a new way for investors to gain control over a large group of bonds without tipping off other investors,” Bloomberg reported. [Largest Junk Bond ETFs Offer 7% Yields]

JNK tracks an index of non-investment-grade corporate bonds and is sponsored by State Street Global Advisors.

BKLN invests senior floating-rate bank loans. “Bank loans are denoted high yield for the sole reason that firms issuing them are highly leveraged,” says Morningstar’s Timothy Strauts in an analyst report on the ETF.

BKLN holds assets of $561.5 million and pays a 12-month yield of 4.8%, according to manager Invesco PowerShares.

PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio


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