Investors pile into longer-dated Treasury ETFs as bond yields fall

Recent price rallies in U.S. government debt drove flows into exchange-traded funds tracking longer-dated Treasuries, according to BlackRock ETF provider iShares.

The iShares 20+ year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT.O) attracted $1.4 billion of inflows in the past three weeks to Thursday, with around $447 million added in the last week.

Comparatively, investors pulled $547 million out of the iShares 7-10 year Treasury Bond ETF (IEF.O) over the same period, according to iShares fixed income investment strategist Dhruv Nagrath.

“We see the balance of risks tilting toward higher yields as markets continue to price in the economic restart,” he said.

After steep declines earlier in the year, Treasuries have rallied over the past few weeks, sending the benchmark 10-year yield as low as 1.25% on Thursday.

BlackRock’s Nagrath noted that recent pullbacks in inflation breakeven rates have increased flows into short-duration, inflation-linked TIPS bond funds, with those ETFs adding $7.7 billion in 2021.

In total, iShares Treasury funds attracted $801 million of net inflows. However, funds tracking corporate debt were in more demand as investors sought higher yielding assets.

iShares ETFs focused on investment-grade company debt recorded $873 million in inflows, while funds tracking high-yielding “junk” bonds have added $1.3 billion since mid-June, according to iShares data.

The iShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG.P) was the biggest beneficiary, attracting inflows of over $700 million. HYG’s shares have risen as high as $88 in the last week, levels last seen before the coronavirus-prompted selloff in March 2020.

Globally, bond funds saw their biggest weekly inflow in over three months, according to Refinitiv Lipper data.