CAM High Yield Weekly Insights
Fund Flows & Issuance: According to a Wells Fargo report, flows week to date were $4.6 billion and year to date flows stand at -$36.6 billion. New issuance for the week was $6.0 billion and year to date issuance is at $63.9 billion.
(Bloomberg) High Yield Market Highlights
- The U.S. junk bond rally is steadily fading as it is heads toward a modest weekly gain of 0.04%, a big drop from the biggest weekly jump in more than two years in the previous week with returns of more than 3%. The junk bond primary market saw a flurry of new issuance in recent days from a stream of borrowers, the busiest week since mid-January.
- High yield issuers “testing market access in the coming weeks should provide better visibility on clearing levels and potentially induce further repricing in secondary spreads,” Morgan Stanley analysts led by Srikanth Sankaran wrote on Thursday.
- The recent rally is more a “reflection of credit markets still trying to calibrate growth fears and tighter liquidity,” Morgan Stanley wrote.
- The borrowers rushed to take quick advantage of the rally unleashed last week after the release of the Fed minutes signaled that the central bank may slow its monetary tightening after the expected half-percentage-point rate increases at each of the next two meetings.
- After a big surge of issuance on Wednesday pricing more than $4b to make it the busiest in five weeks, there was a marked slowdown after that. Thursday was quiet with just one deal pricing for $500m and there is nothing scheduled for pricing today.
- While the primary market was revived after a quiet and slowest May since 2002, the market was led by low risk BB rated bonds as the borrowers were testing access and risk appetite of the market.
- The spreads have tightened too fast, Barclays wrote on Friday. The credit cycle is aging quickly, and the macro picture remains gloomy in both the US and the rest of the world, Brad Rogoff, head of fixed income research at Barclays, wrote in note.
- “We expect volatility to remain elevated as the Fed tries to find the right balance,” Barclays emphasized.
- The sharp surge and sudden drop in yields and prices will continue until clarity emerges from the Federal Reserve on the right balance.
- Junk bonds may stall as US equity futures drop after a report that Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the electric carmaker needs to cut staff amid a gloomy economic outlook. Meanwhile, oil is headed for a sixth weekly advance after a keenly anticipated OPEC+ meeting delivered only a modest increase in output.
(Bloomberg) Fed Starts Experiment of Letting $8.9 Trillion Portfolio Shrink
- The Federal Reserve is about to start shrinking its $8.9 trillion balance sheet, deploying a second tool along side higher interest rates to curb inflation, though officials don’t know just how effective it will be.
- After doubling in size through asset purchases in the first two years of the pandemic, the balance sheet will be reduced at a pace that’s almost twice as fast as after the last financial crisis. While the process officially commences on Wednesday, the first US Treasury securities won’t run off until $15 billion mature on June 15.
- The Fed is capping monthly runoff at $47.5 billion — $30 billion for Treasuries and $17.5 billion for mortgage-backed securities — until September. Those thresholds will then double to a combined $95 billion. That compares to a peak of $50 billion a month when the Fed performed the exercise starting in 2017.
- Officials say the reduction will work in tandem with interest-rate increases to cool price pressures by tightening financial conditions. But it’s not clear how much impact the balance sheet will have. As Fed Governor Christopher Waller put it in a speech on Monday, estimates “using a variety of models and assumptions” are “highly uncertain.”
- The Fed deployed massive asset purchases during the 2008 financial crisis for the first time since World War II, expanding the balance sheet to about $4.5 trillion by the time it stopped buying at the end of 2014. It then waited three years before allowing it to begin shrinking at the end of 2017, reducing it to about $3.8 trillion by September 2019.
- Uncertainty over the course of the balance sheet was said by commentators to have contributed to the market turmoil that ultimately helped bring an end to the Fed’s last rate-hike campaign, which concluded in December 2018. Now, the Fed is also raising its benchmark rate at a faster pace in a bid to tighten financial conditions and tame inflation, which in recent months has reached the highest levels in four decades.
- Minutes of the Fed’s most recent policy meeting, on May 3-4, said that, “Regarding risks related to the balance-sheet reduction, several participants noted the potential for unanticipated effects on financial market conditions.” The next meeting is scheduled for June 14-15.