The recent sell-off in the speculative-grade debt market may open up a buying opportunity for junk bond-related exchange traded funds as some argue the selling was overdone.

Over the past three months, iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (NYSEArca: HYG) declined 5.9% and SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (NYSEArca: JNK) decreased 7.2%. Since the December 4 low, HYG gained 3.2% and JNK rose 2.6%.

The speculative-grade debt market has been under stress, with rising concerns over default risks in highly indebted companies and the more recent liquidity problem out of a Third Avenue high-yield bond fund. [Don’t Associate Junk Mutual Fund Problems with Bond ETFs]

Meanwhile, HYG and JNK, the two largest junk bond ETFs, recently hit six-year lows as the average yield of the riskiest debts rated triple C rose above 18%, a level not seen since the financial crisis, reports Robin Wigglesworth for the Financial Times.

However, after the steep sell-off on Monday, some bargain hunters believe the selling has gone too far.

“The anxiety and fear is overdone,” Ken Leech, chief investment officer of Western Asset Management, told the Financial Times. “We’ll see an uptick in defaults, especially in energy and mining, but not enough to derail the economy — and certainly not as many as implied by the markets.”

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