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Feb 27, 2019

Largest junk-bond ETF adds most cash in 2 years

BC-Largest-Junk-Bond-ETF-Adds-Most-Cash-in-Two-Years

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The largest junk bond ETF is seeing its biggest cash injection in two years in February as investors jump back into riskier assets after the worst December for high-yield debt since 2015.

The US$16.1 billion iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF, ticker HYG, is on track for its best month of inflows since December 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fund is the largest ETF tracking junk debt and has taken in US$1.6 billion so far in February.

Investors fled high-yield-bond ETFs toward the end of last year, shifting to less-risky assets amid concerns about growth, rising interest rates and escalating trade tensions. Now, the funds are set for a second month of inflows, buoyed by a change in Federal Reserve policy, higher oil prices and the appearance of progress in talks between the U.S. and China.

“There was a pretty attractive entry point back in the very beginning of the year because spreads did widen out so much in the month of December,” Karen Schenone, a fixed-income product strategist at BlackRock, said at a company event Tuesday. “We’ve seen some people coming in, using [HYG] to take advantage of that tactical move.”

For others, the attractiveness of a junk-bond fund like HYG is simply what the name implies, as it offers a 5.4 per cent yield, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

It’s “still one of the few places in the market to go and get that type of yield,’’ Schenone said.