SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (NYSEArca: JNK) experienced redemptions of nearly $400 million on Monday but the corporate junk debt fund still holds $11.6 billion as investors scrounge for yield.
JNK saw outflows of $378 million on Monday, the second-highest daily redemption in the ETF’s history, according to Bloomberg.
“You’re going to see more of these block trades happening here because it’s replacing the credit-default swaps to some degree,” said Peter Tchir, founder of New York-based TF Market Advisors, in the report. “People are starting to use it as a way to short blocks of ETFs and then do the exchange.”
Junk bond ETFs have been very popular in recent years with investors stretching for yield as the Federal Reserve holds short-term rates near zero. [Junk Bond ETF Yields May Fall Below 5% Amid Scramble for Income]
That demand has pushed debt prices higher and yields on some junk bond ETFs below 5% for the first time. For example, iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond Fund (NYSEArca: HYG) has a 30-day SEC yield of 4.88%. The ETF holds $15.5 billion in assets.
“The five biggest ETFs that focus on speculative- grade debt have amassed more than $30 billion in the six years since the first such fund was created,” Bloomberg reports.
High-yield bond ETFs continue to march higher despite some recent weak economic data. [High-Yield Bond ETFs Shrug Off Woeful Jobs Report]
“With defaults low, balance sheets healthy and rates going nowhere anytime soon, this playbook grows ever more popular,” writes Josh Brown at the Reformed Broker blog.
“The combination of negative real yields in high quality bonds, yet on average reasonably healthy corporate fundamentals, support taking credit risk over interest rate risk,” Merrill Lynch Wealth Management said in areport. “We do not see credit metrics flashing red yet and as long as corporations are maximizing their profit margins, we are comfortable that the extra risk in higher yielding bonds has the potential to be rewarded. We remain on the lookout for any signs of weakness in corporate balance sheets and while the rate of improvements has slowed, overall non- financial balance sheets remain healthy.”
SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF
Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own HYG and JNK.