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Home > Investments > Fixed Income

By Bradley Gerrard | Published Sep 21, 2012

Barclays strategists cautious on bonds

Barclays Wealth strategists have said they are remaining underweight bonds even in spite of the US Federal Reserve’s announcement of another massive monetary stimulus package.

Kevin Gardiner, head of investment strategy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea), said just the fact the US Federal Reserve was buying up bonds was not sufficient justification to plough into the market.

The Fed pledged to print $40bn (£24.6bn) of new money every month and plough it into fixed income markets in an open-ended programme.

“If the Federal Reserve is buying more bonds, shouldn’t we? Not necessarily. We suspect the US economy, not QE3, will be more important driver of bond yields,” he said.

“Looking ahead, if it now turns out that the US economy is indeed continuing to grow, while the European Central Bank et al are succeeding in fostering the euro ‘muddle-through’, we could easily see treasury and even mortgage-backed security yields rise over the year ahead, QE3 or not.

“The starting point now is a level of global yields that leaves most high quality government bonds, and much investment grade credit, looking very expensive.

“We remain tactically and strategically underweight developed government bonds.”

Mr Gardiner pointed out that the Fed had also extended another monetary easing programme, Operation Twist, under which the Fed swaps shorter-dated US government bonds for longer-dated ones.

“With the Fed also extending its interest rate guidance to mid-2015, the likelihood of policy providing the trigger for the long-awaited normalisation in yields any time soon is slim,” he said.

“We remain tactically and strategically, but not urgently or obsessively, underweight fixed income. We suspect the US economy, not QE3, will turn out to be in the driving seat.”

The investment strategist added he favoured developed equity markets, although he acknowledged markets may be due a setback “given the very strong run over the summer and a still daunting diary of events” until the end of the year.

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