High-Yield Bond ETFs

Investors’ infatuation will yield and optimism over the U.S. fiscal cliff deal has pushed the largest junk bond ETFs to their highest prices since the global credit crunch.

For example, iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond (NYSEArca: HYG) during Wednesday’s rally touched a high of $94.23 a share. The breakout pushed the junk debt ETF to its highest level since 2008.

SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond (NYSEArca: JNK) notched an intraday high of $41.05 a share yesterday. That’s its highest price since Nov. 5, 2010. [High-Yield ETF Breakout Holds Key for Stocks]

Combined, the two high-yield ETFs pulled in nearly $8 billion of net inflows in 2012. [Why Trading, Assets in High-Yield Bond ETFs are Exploding]

The junk debt funds are paying 30-day SEC yields of more than 5% although yields have been pushed down to record low levels due to seemingly insatiable demand for the bonds. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes are hovering around 1.8%.

Although investors don’t have many other options to boost income, some analysts are worried that junk bond yields aren’t enough to adequately compensate investors for holding speculative grade debt. [Junk Bond ETF Yielding Over 6% Sees Record Bearish Bets]

JNK and HYG posted total returns of more than 10% for 2012 amid the scramble for yield, according to Morningstar.