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Portfolio > Mutual Funds > Bond Funds

PIMCO Total Return Fund Cuts Emerging Debt to Lowest Since 2014

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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, based on data from the PIMCO website. The figure has dropped from as much as 28.9 percent in August 2015. 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 has $87.1 billion in assets and is the world’s biggest actively run bond fund, is reducing its holdings of developing-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 has gained 2.3 percent in the past year, ranking about in the middle among its peers, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

Benchmark Treasuries were little changed Wednesday, with the 10-year yield at 1.75 percent as of 12:44 p.m. in Tokyo, based on Bloomberg Bond Trader data. The price of the 1.625 percent security due in February 2026 was 98 7/8.

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

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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