Ten-year Treasury yields are still down 11% year-to-date, but since Jan. 30, those yields have surged over 15%, pinching several interest rate-sensitive asset classes and the relevant exchange traded funds in the process.
Since 10-year yields started rising on Jan. 30, some ETFs that were investor favorites in 2014 have struggled, underscoring the notion that rate sensitivity for select asset classes is a legitimate concern at a time when so many market observers cannot resist the temptation of saying 2015 will finally be the year the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.
For example, the Vanguard REIT ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ), one of 2014’s top performing and top asset-gathering industry ETFs, is off nearly 2% since the end of January. Some may be concerned that REITs are sensitive to changes in interest rates. Notably, the fall in interest rates have made the asset more attractive as a yield-generating alternative, but some fear the asset will fall out of favor once rates rise. [REIT ETFs Can Endure Rate Risk]
The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSEArca: TLT), iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate Index Fund (NYSEArca: IYR) and the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU), the top performer among the nine sector SPDR ETFs last year, have also been crimped by the recent rise in 10-year yields.
“Interest rate sensitive assets like Government bonds (TLT), Real Estate (IYR) and Utilities (XLU) have benefit greatly from falling rates and the macro theme of deflation, pushing all of them much higher over the past year(s),” notes Chris Kimble of Kimble Charting Solutions.
TLT and XLU are off 5% and 4.5%, respectively since Jan. 30 and Kimble notes that last week’s action in XLU, the largest utilities ETF, could be concerning.
“XLU of late has been creating bearish wicks at the top if this channel at (1). Last week, XLU broke short-term support at (2). The lower right chart is of TLT, which reflects that a bearish rising wedge looks to have formed and the support of this pattern was taken out this week, as TLT in one week wiped out a months worth of gains,” he said.