Pension Funds to Put More in Lond Bonds, Fidelity Says

Pension funds will deploy more cash to long-term bonds as a global economic recovery is forecast to push yields higher in developed nations, according to a Fidelity Investments survey of retirement managers.

Pension funds that oversee $9 trillion of assets in North America, Europe and Asia will slow what Bank of America Corp. in 2011 called the great rotation of capital moving into equities and away from bonds, according to the poll conducted by Pyramis Global Advisors, a Fidelity unit.

The investors, who cited shifting interest rates as the biggest risk, will seek out long-dated debt to match liabilities, said Derek Young, president of Fidelity’s global asset-allocation group. Two-thirds of respondents said they’ve used liability-driven investing successfully, are currently using it or are considering it, according to the survey.

“At a time when people least expect investment in bonds, you may see it because of a move toward liability-driven investing,” Boston-based Young said by phone Oct. 24. “Long-dated bonds are really critical in immunizing these portfolios against interest-rate risk. You want to pair off the assets with the liability.”

Growth in Group-of-10 nations is forecast to rebound to 2.2 percent in 2015, on average, from 1.7 percent in 2014. U.S. 30-year bonds will yield 3.85 percent by the middle of next year, and 10-year notes will yield 3.1 percent, according to the median estimates of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Thirty-year Treasuries yielded 3.05 percent and 10-year securities 2.27 percent on Oct. 24.

Asia Concern

Fidelity is scaling back investments in Asia in favor of Europe and the U.S., Young said. The firm is betting European Central Bank stimulus will jump-start economic growth and that the U.S. recovery will gain momentum. China’s economy is at risk from a boom-to-bust housing trajectory, he said.

“We see Europe at a mid-cycle. If the ECB steps in with more stimulus measures, that will create more opportunities,” Young said. “We’re less constructive on Asia, China and Japan. Our biggest concern is that growth in China is credit-driven as opposed to being productivity-driven. That type of growth typically doesn’t survive.”

Pyramis, based in Smithfield, Rhode Island, conducted the survey in June and July, polling 811 investors from 22 countries, including 191 U.S. corporate pension plans, 71 U.S. government pension plans and 90 Canadian pension plans.

Fidelity, based in Boston, oversees $290 billion in assets, including the Fidelity Advisor Asset Allocation Fund.

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