Investment Grade Bonds > IG Bond Index Spreads & Yields

Investment grade bonds data: Hover over the charts to see the values at a given date. iBoxx EUR Corporates Index data provided by Markit Group Ltd.

These charts are updated monthly.

i) Euro Investment Grade Bond Index: Corporate Spreads

The period from late 2007 through to Q1 2009 coincided with the greatest widening in credit spreads ever seen. The excess systemic leverage/structured product bid leading to very tight spreads markets in the preceding 2003-2007 period was spectacularly undone.

We recovered hard in 2009 once the central bank easing began with money looking for a home in cheap, high yielding corporate bonds. 2009 coincided with the greatest spread tightening era ever seen.

While corporate bond markets sold off in late 2011-2012, we have seen a good recovery since. The compression trade, between high and low beta corporate bonds all the way down to and including the HY market was a key feature in the 2012-2014 years.

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ii) Investment Grade Bond Index: Corporate Spreads 2015-

Q1 2015 threatened to see spreads tighten further into their all-time lows as the Markit iBoxx investment grade bond index fell through B+100bp (to B+94bp). Unfortunately, macro jitters and contagion from the US shale bubble busting impacted corporate bond markets and we have seen some severe retracement in spreads through 2015 and early 2016.

Now? The corporate bond market has quietly and impressively taken a firm hold to finally play out in classic fashion – there is solid investor demand, clearly a low alternative in safe’ish ‘yielding’ assets, and only average levels of new bond supply – and thus a consistent tightening in spreads. We’re facing records in valuations in the corporate bond market everywhere we look. And it is leading to levels of performance we very few would have imagined at the beginning of the year. That performance is all the more impressive following that rather brutal rate sell-off at the end of June, but we guess is supported by a global economy still playing out in Goldilocks fashion.

Investment grade markets in Europe have been supported by just over €130bn of direct ECB support over the past 18-months. The back-up in spreads in early November was largely corrected and IG spreads are now 2.6bp away from setting new record tights, measured by the Markit iBoxx index (target B+94bp, ended 2017 at B+96.6bp). We’ve also managed to garner an excellent +2.4% of total return performance on 38bp of index spread tightening in 2017 – which was at the top end of anyone’s expectations.


iii) Investment Grade Bond Index: Corporate Yields

Yields from investment grade bonds have also backed up from the 2017 lows but the overall firmness in the underlying has helped keep them at still very low levels. We have been as low as 0.88% on the index and as high as 1.80%, but the we’re lacking a clear trend now. There is a range being established in the 0.9-1.10% area having broke lower after the rally in rate markets through September and we have managed to maintain that range through November.

We thought it was unlikely that we were going to see the heady heights of Q1 2015 in corporate bond yields (0.79% index low), unless, a Goldilocks economy and continued low default rate across Europe is complimented by a less volatile macro outlook and reduced levels of headline risks. We’re seeing it! and it has been spurring on the compression trade between IG and HY risk.

The chart shows how the corporate bond market has benefited from QE – the need by investors to buy safe, higher yielding assets while the high levels of demand have promoted the disintermediation in funding for the corporate sector. Event risk largely around US politics and to a lesser extent Brexit have prevented underlying yields from popping materially higher.

Investment grade bonds >  Fund performance: Euro | Sterling
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