Amid declining risk appetite, investors piled into fixed income exchange traded funds last week as seven of the top 10 asset-gathering ETFs were bond funds.
That list includes the iShares TIPS Bond ETF (NYSEArca: TIP), which hauled in over $277 million as U.S. equities sank. Last week’s asset-gathering pace for TIP represents a sharp reversal of fortune after the ETF bled assets in August.
“Traders yanked almost a half a billion dollars last month from U.S. exchange-traded funds holding government securities that protect against inflation. The withdrawals came as a bond-market gauge of expected price increases fell to the lowest since May 2009. The central bank, which seeks to achieve 2 percent inflation, is poised to raise interest rates even as debt markets harbor little optimism about price acceleration,” reports Susanne Walker Barton for Bloomberg.
If the yield curve steepens, every fixed-income asset will see higher rates but longer dated bonds will see yields rise the most, suggesting that the economy is quickly heating up. That would make ETFs like TIP more attractive to fixed income investors.
Last year’s sudden plunge in oil prices has helped keep prices low, but the Fed believes the drop in oil prices will only be short-term. However, the stronger dollar is a dominant factor in keeping commodity prices depressed. Consequently, the low-inflation environment is also fueling bets that the Fed could push off any interest rate hikes.
“Investors pulled $478 million from 18 inflation-linked bond ETFs in August, the most since September 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg,” according to the news agency.