Retail Inflows Into Junk Bonds Highest On Record In Past Month

It seems like only a blurry, distant memory but February 11 - the day the S&P hit its 2016 lows - was just over 4 weeks ago. In the subsequent 4 weeks, the market has unleashed one of the most furious short covering/record corporate buybacl/central bank easing-driven "risk on" rallies ever, and nowehere is this more obvious than in recent inflows into credit markets (the same bond market which just one week ago the ECB made "risk-free" by announcing it would monetize corporate bonds for the first time ever).

As BofA's Michael Contoupolos writes, "US HY recorded another impressive +$2.01bn (+1.0%) net inflow last week, their 5th consecutive time in the green. Over the last 4 weeks, US HY has gained a net $11.52bn from retail flows, the largest ever in a 4 week span for the asset class. Given the 40% increase in WTI prices since February 11th, improving economic data, and dovish support from the ECB, it is not surprising to us that retail has piled into risk assets and by extension US HY lately."

Then again, as we have remarked before, the HY strategist is "not buying" it and remains firmly on the sidelines.

However, given that the fundamental backdrop has not changed and defaults are in fact increasing, we believe these inflows are an over-reaction to transitory tailwinds. In fact, we think the recent rally has limited staying power as yesterday’s acknowledgement by Chair Yellen of stresses in financial markets, combined with a weaker consumer and poor Q4 earnings season should have created renewed fears of a growth slowdown in the US, in our view."

He may be alone in his skepticism: others have decided to not fight if not the Fed, then certainly the ECB whose greenlight to buy bonds has made junk bonds the most preferred global class for the time being.