Bond ETFs Rise as Omicron Infections Weigh on Holiday Outlook

Bond exchange traded funds strengthened on Monday as U.S. markets tumbled amid concerns over rising COVID-19 Omicron cases and a setback in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill.

The resurgence in global infections of the more transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant have fueled volatility in financial markets as many European countries and the United Kingdom warned of potential restrictions during the Christmas holiday season, Reuters reports.

“Typically what happens in Europe is a bit of a preview for what we see in the United States. So, if we see a lot more infections in the U.S., it could stress hospitals, make people less reluctant to get out, spend, and partake in the economy. That’s definitely a cause of concern,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance, told Reuters.

This pressure on the growth outlook comes after the Federal Reserve signaled last week that it will begin tapering its pandemic-era stimulus more quickly and execute at least three 0.25% interest rate hikes by the end of 2022.

“So we could be seeing a little bit of downward pressure on growth forecasts for next year and as a result, we may be seeing some of that reverberate through the market as well,” Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, told Reuters.

Further weighing on risk sentiment, Senator Joe Manchin stated that he would not back his party’s roughly $2 trillion fiscal spending package, potentially putting an end to the centerpiece of Biden’s economic agenda.

Investors looking to strengthen their fixed income portfolios can consider the Avantis Core Fixed Income ETF (AVIG), which invests in a broad set of debt obligations across sectors, maturities, and issuers. AVIG pursues the benefits associated with indexing, such as diversification and transparency of exposures. However, the fund also has the ability to add value by making investment decisions using information embedded in current yields.

The Avantis Short-Term Fixed Income ETF (AVSF) also invests primarily in investment-grade quality debt obligations from a diverse group of U.S. and non-U.S. issuers with shorter maturities.

The actively managed American Century Diversified Corporate Bond ETF (NYSEArca: KORP) invests in U.S. dollar-denominated corporate debt securities issued by U.S. and foreign entities, but may also hold securities issued by supranational entities. Up to 35% of the fund’s net assets may be invested in high-yield securities or junk bonds. The fund may also invest in derivative instruments such as futures contracts and swap agreements. The weighted average duration of the fund’s portfolio is expected to be between three and seven years.

Additionally, the actively managed American Century Multisector Income ETF (MUSI) is designed for investors pursuing consistent income in a tax-efficient ETF vehicle. The team targets attractive yield throughout the market cycle while offering investors access to a diverse opportunity set of securities, including investment-grade corporates, high-yield corporates, emerging market debt, and securitized bonds.

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