Pimco Total Return Fund Cuts Emerging Debt to Lowest Since 2014

Emerging Markets Attractively Valued, Says Choukeir
  • Emerging bonds decline to 9.4% of assets from 28.9% in August
  • Pimco has been reducing risk, Ivascyn says in market outlook

Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Total Return Fund cut its holdings of emerging-market debt to the lowest level in almost two years in April.

Emerging bonds fell to 9.4 percent of assets, the smallest proportion since August 2014,  and down from as much as 28.9 percent in August 2015, based on data from the Pimco website. U.S. government holdings, which include Treasuries as well as related securities such as futures contracts or agency bonds, were little changed at about 36 percent.

Total Return, which is the world’s biggest actively run bond fund, is reducing its holdings of emerging-market assets as a rally ends on speculation the Federal Reserve is still on course to raise interest rates. Investors seeking safety can buy when the U.S. sells $23 billion of 10-year notes Wednesday.

“We’ve been outright reducing risk in some of the higher-risk, or more volatile, segments of the market,” said Dan Ivascyn, the chief investment officer for Pimco, which is based in Newport Beach, California. “The emerging-market region has significant near-term challenges. From a shorter-term perspective, we’re much more cautious,” he said in a video on the outlook for May posted on the company’s website on Monday.

Bonds that have benefited from investors hunting for higher yields are among the most vulnerable, Ivascyn said. There’s value in emerging debt over the long term, he said.

The Total Return Fund, which has $87.1 billion in assets, has gained 2.3 percent in the past year, ranking about in the middle among its peers, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

Treasuries were little changed Wednesday, with the benchmark 10-year note yield at 1.75 percent as of 6:48 a.m. in London, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader data. The price of the 1.625 percent security due in February 2026 was 98 27/32.

The Bloomberg USD Emerging Market Sovereign Bond Index has climbed 7.2 percent this year, though it has fallen from its high for the year reached on April 20. The Bloomberg US Treasury Bond Index has risen 3.5 percent in 2016.

A weaker-than-expected jobs report last week ignited a debate over how fast the Fed will raise rates. William Dudley, the president of the New York Fed, told the New York Times it’s reasonable to expect two moves this year. Traders are betting policy makers will wait until February 2017 before their next increase, futures contracts indicate.

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