Quarterly credit market review

Read the quarterly investment review and outlook from Ninety One’s Developed Market Credit team. This covers the major global credit markets and includes a special focus article each quarter, to give a timely insight into a key topic for credit investors.

Apr 8, 2020

12 Minutes

The year started positively, as the US and China signed into effect ‘phase one’ of their trade deal. However, before long, news of the worsening coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China began to drive fear into markets. First, this saw investors shun risk in favour of higher-rated assets, in a reversal of moves seen in late 2019. US Treasury yields fell, helping investment-grade debt to outperform high-yield debt. But then came the oil price war, as cooperation within OPEC+ broke down. As COVID-19 progressed to global pandemic status, so began one of the fastest ever sell-offs, pushing credit market valuations to levels normally seen in times of recession, and reaching all parts of the global credit market, even traditional safe havens.

It seems markets eventually found a ‘floor’ – albeit one that’s possibly temporary in nature – before rebounding towards the end of the quarter. Monetary policy action was a key catalyst for this positive shift. Specifically, the US Federal Reserve stepped up its support, with various measures having a direct, positive impact on credit markets. The Fed’s participation in the primary and second US corporate bond markets, plus a new two-trillion dollar fiscal package have provided a further fillip for the overall mood in markets.

Where does that leave credit investors? While the level of uncertainty – both economic and virus related – remains high, we believe that the pronounced repricing of credit spreads in the quarter now offers a variety of attractive opportunities for discerning credit investors. However, selectivity and dynamism will be key to capitalising on this opportunity, especially with a marked increase in defaults looming.

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Default: There is a risk that the issuers of fixed income investments (e.g. bonds) may not be able to meet interest payments nor repay the money they have borrowed. The worse the credit quality of the issuer, the greater the risk of default and therefore investment loss.
Derivatives: The use of derivatives may increase overall risk by magnifying the effect of both gains and losses leading to large changes in value and potentially large financial loss. A counterparty to a derivative transaction may fail to meet its obligations which may also lead to a financial loss.
Interest rate: The value of fixed income investments (e.g. bonds) tends to decrease when interest rates rise.
Liquidity: There may be insufficient buyers or sellers of particular investments giving rise to delays in trading and being able to make settlements, and/or large fluctuations in value. This may lead to larger financial losses than might be anticipated.
Loans: The specific collateral used to secure a loan may decline in value or become illiquid, which would adversely affect the loan’s value. Many loans are not actively traded, which may impair the ability of the Portfolio to realise full value in the event of the need to liquidate such assets.

All investments carry the risk of capital loss. The value of investments, and any income generated from them, can fall as well as rise and will be affected by changes in interest rates, currency fluctuations, general market conditions and other political, social and economic developments, as well as by specific matters relating to the assets in which the investment strategy invests. If any currency differs from the investor’s home currency, returns may increase or decrease as a result of currency fluctuations. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
Important Information

This communication is provided for general information only should not be construed as advice.

All the information in is believed to be reliable but may be inaccurate or incomplete. The views are those of the contributor at the time of publication and do not necessary reflect those of Ninety One.

Any opinions stated are honestly held but are not guaranteed and should not be relied upon.

All rights reserved. Issued by Ninety One, issued April 2020.