US Junk Bonds Eked Out A Small Gain Last Week

Equity markets around the world took a hit at the end of last week in the wake of Friday’s news that Britain voted to leave the European Union. Stocks almost everywhere posted sharp losses once the dust cleared for the trading week through June 24. US junk bonds, however, managed to post a small gain, delivering the best performance last week for the major assets classes, based on a set of proxy ETFs. US investment-grade bonds ticked higher as well. Otherwise, red ink dominated the field.

The SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (JNK) was last week’s unlikely winner, posting a 0.4% total return for the five trading days through Friday. But the relative strength for the weekly comparison is a bit of an illusion since it masks the ETF’s sharp decline on Friday.

There’s certainly no illusions about last week’s biggest loser. Foreign corporate bonds in US dollar terms crumbled 3.2% via the PowerShares International Corp Bond ETF (PICB).

Last week’s negative bias had a predictable effect on an ETF-based version of the Global Markets Index (GMI.F) — an investable, unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes in market-value weights. Indeed, GMI.F posted a relatively hefty loss last week with a 1.4% slide.


Despite the rout on Friday, US securitized real estate continues to hold the leadership position for the trailing one-year return among the major asset classes. The Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ) is up more than 16% in total return terms for the 12 months through June 24.

On the flip side, emerging-market equities remain the laggard, posting the biggest loss for the past year. The Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) is off nearly 18% for the 12 months through Friday.


Meanwhile, GMI.F’s trailing one-year loss dipped lower at last week’s close. This multi-asset class passive benchmark is now off by 2.7% for the 12 months through June 24.

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