According to the latest Morningstar report on U.S. mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) fund flows for May 2019, taxable-bond inflows fell from $42.6 billion in April to $15.4 billion in May, the group’s worst showing year-to-date.

Furthermore, with additional funds reporting assets after the April fund flows report published, Morningstar data shows about $89.0 billion between active and passive U.S. equity funds reaching parity. Morningstar estimates net flow for mutual funds by computing the change in assets not explained by the performance of the fund, and net flow for U.S. ETFs shares outstanding and reported net assets.

Morningstar’s report about U.S. fund flows for May is available here. Highlights from the report include:

  • Fund flows were weak across the board in May, with long-term funds losing nearly $2.0 billion to outflows, the worst month year-to-date as investors cut risk. Money-market funds saw inflows of $82.0 billion, the group’s second-best month in 10 years.
  • Among category groups, taxable-bond inflows fell from $42.6 billion in April to $15.4 billion in May, the group’s worst showing year-to-date. Overall, credit-oriented high-yield bond and bank loan funds fared worst, losing $5.8 billion and $3.1 billion to outflows, respectively.
  • Among all U.S. fund families, Vanguard led with $16.7 billion in inflows, followed by $5.1 billion from Fidelity; iShares’ flows were flat. At the other end of the spectrum, State Street Global Advisors saw $22.6 billion in outflows, followed by Invesco’s $5.8 billion in outflows.
  • Invesco QQQ Trust, which holds a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Neutral, saw outflows of $3.3 billion in May. Conversely, active-oriented American Funds had $2.7 billion in inflows, with much of that demand coming through its target-date lineup.

To view the complete report, please click here.

A volatile May no doubt elicited a risk-off sentiment that permeated throughout the capital markets, causing high-yield bond funds to experience record outflows. Furthermore, with bond market mavens warning investors of headwinds in the fixed income space like the possibility of inverted yield curve, rising rates and BBB debt sliding out of investment-grade, investors need to be keen on where to look for opportunities to hide away when markets head downward.

Short Duration ETF Options

Right now, in today’s fixed income environment, it could benefit investors if they played the short game with short duration fixed income exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Investors can limit exposure to long-term debt with ETFs like the SPDR Portfolio Short Term Corp Bd ETF (NYSEArca: SPSB), which seeks to provide investment results that correspond to the performance of the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. 1-3 Year Corporate Bond Index. SPSB invests at least 80 percent of its total assets in securities designed to measure the performance of the short-termed U.S. corporate bond market. Ideally, shorter-term bond issues with maturities of three to four years are ideal to minimize duration exposure should the bull market enter another correction phase.

Another short-term bond ETF option is the iShares 1-3 Year Credit Bond ETF (NASDAQ: CSJ), which tracks the investment results of the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. 1-3 Year Credit Bond Index where 90 percent of its assets will be allocated towards a mix of investment-grade corporate debt and sovereign, supranational, local authority, and non-U.S. agency bonds that are U.S. dollar-denominated and have a remaining maturity of greater than one year and less than or equal to three years–this shorter duration is beneficial during recessionary environments or deeper corrections in the market.

For more trends in fixed income, visit the Fixed Income Channel.

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