We’re in the midst of earnings season, and thus far the news is largely positive. Roughly 80% of companies that report earnings beat analysts’ profit estimates, while 69% exceeded sales projections.
However, despite the good news, there has been aggressive selling of risky assets, namely, U.S. equities and high yield bonds, the latter being particularly surprising. All in all, this seems to be a sign of investor fatigue setting in, as I write in my new weekly investment commentary.
Last week, investors pulled $4.2 billion from global exchange traded products, representing the first weekly outflow since late May. Selling was particularly aggressive for U.S. large caps, which lost $6.8 billion, while European equities lost $600 million in their third straight week of outflows.
Still, stock prices are lofty and not a lot of bad news is priced in to the market. Even with decent earnings it appears that investors are getting nervous.
However, high yield is somewhat more surprising. High yield is often thought of as the most “equity-like” segment of the bond market. Good news on the earnings front and a strengthening economy usually translate into support for high yield bonds. In addition, default rates on high yield bonds are low.
Nonetheless, over the past two weeks, $4 billion has come out of high yield mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs). We saw $1 billion leave high yield ETFs last week alone. The recent selling has pushed yields up around 0.40% from their June lows.
True, high yield has seen significant inflows over the past several years, a result of investors’ quest for yield in a low interest rate environment. No one would describe it as cheap.
Still, I’m surprised by the recent outflows for two basic reasons: