Yields Poised to Rise on Pension Funds Reducing Debt Purchases

Yields could be poised to rise as pension funds are ready to wind down purchases of government and corporate debt by mid-September. Funds are taking advantage of last year’s tax law change that gave them until the middle of September this year to deduct pension contributions at the previous year’s lower tax rate.

“There is a tax advantage for most plans to make a contribution prior to Sept. 15 of this year…saving 14 cents on the dollar,” said Matt McDaniel, a partner with consulting firm Mercer. “Unsurprisingly, a lot of corporations are looking at that and saying: ‘Gee our pension plan is underfunded. Why wouldn’t we accelerate that cash and fund it on a cheaper basis.’ This in turn generates dollars into the pension system that has to go to work.”

Pension funds have thus been on a bond-buying spree, particularly during spring and summer, which tamped down yields. Since bond prices are inversely-related to yields, this buying spree would have effectively reduced supply and driven up prices.

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