Mounting fears regarding the pace of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, increased tensions between the U.S. and China over trade, and concerns over slowing global growth led to volatile conditions in both equity and fixed income markets during the final quarter of 2018. These fears led equities to fall 13.52% in the quarter, as measured by the S&P 500. The decline in equities during the quarter induced selling across a wide spectrum of asset classes, including high-yield bonds, which fell 4.64% and senior loans which were down 3.42%. The risk-off sentiment led to a flight to quality, notably into U.S. Treasury Bonds. As Treasury's increased in value, interest rates declined. The yield on the 10 Year U.S. Treasury Bond had its first quarterly decline since the second quarter of 2017 as the yield moved from 3.06% at the end of the third quarter to 2.68% at the end of the fourth quarter. Despite the volatility in the fourth quarter, senior loans outperformed most fixed income asset classes in 2018. Loans finished the year marginally positive at 0.47% (Exhibit 1) while high-yield bonds were down 2.25% (Exhibit 2), investment grade corporate bonds were down 2.24% and the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Index, a good proxy for the overall bond market, finished the year up one basis point.
Posted on Friday, January 11, 2019 @ 12:44 PM
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