ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Despite concerns about rising interest rates ahead and equities rallying to new highs, Treasury bond exchange traded funds are still experiencing strong demand for safety.

The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSEArca: TLT) has jumped 16.1% year-to-date, outperforming the equities market, with the S&P 500 index up 8.6%.

Additionally, more aggressive traders have taken a geared approach to play upside swings in U.S Treasuries. For instance, the ProShares Ultra 20+ Year Treasury (NYSEArca: UBT), which reflects the daily 200% performance of long-term Treasuries, and the Direxion Daily 20+ Year Treasury Bull 3x Shares ETF (NYSEArca: TMF), which reflects the daily 300% performance of long-term Treasuries, both provide leveraged exposure to U.S. government debt. Year-to-date, UBT is up 33.7% and TMF is up 52.4%.

Since the Dec. 31 peak of 3.03%, yields on benchmark 10-year Treasuries have dipped to about 2.4%. Meanwhile, 30-year Treasury yields have fallen off to 3.22% from close to 4.0% at the start of the year.

“Our global macros strategy has had a 40% weighting in U.S. Treasuries all year,” Paul Schatz, president of Heritage Capital, said in an InvestmentNews article. “We’re looking at long-term slow growth and low inflation, with a whiff of deflation, and that benefits Treasuries.”

Alpha Capital Management director of research Anna Dunn argues that the frightening news and the basic macroeconomic environment are pushing down yields. [Treasury ETFs Surge as Investors Hedge Ukraine Risks]

“The fixed income market is at a scary point right now and Treasuries are a default move for a lot of investors,” Dunn said in the article. “If you don’t know what to do in bonds, go to Treasuries. If the stock market looks too high, go to Treasuries.”

Some hedge funds have cut bets on stocks and raised positions in U.S. Treasuries as a safe-haven in an attempt to diminish their risk exposure, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Additionally, Treasuries are still more attractive than many other global government bonds. For instance, Treasury yields are 50 basis points higher than comparable Japanese bonds and a little less than 1% higher than comparable German bonds.

Looking ahead, the Fed is expected to hike short-term rates sometime next year. However, most Treasury bonds may not see an immediate effect.

“The Fed will raise rates next year, and the short-term rates will probably go back toward 1%,” Schatz added. “But that will probably have minimal impact on the 10-year, because the yield curve is so steep right now.”

iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF

For more information on U.S. Treasuries, visit our Treasury bonds category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.