Is the time for duration strategy in bond funds over?
Last year many income and dynamic bond fund portfolios had high duration and delivered double-digit returns. Duration-led returns are harder now due to slower pace of rate cuts and other factors
Inflows in income funds went up by 44% in calendar year 2016 as compared to the previous year; and in 2017 inflows are already 8% higher than in 2016. Thanks to the downward rate cycle in domestic economy, income funds have seen more investors and inflows. In 2015 and 2016, many income and dynamic bond funds increased their duration to take advantage of the falling rates and fared well, delivering double-digit returns. Duration measures the change in price of a bond as interest rates change. Bond prices rise with fall in rates. However, the pace of rate cuts has since slowed and duration-led returns are now harder to come by. The last 1-year average return for dynamic bond funds category is at 5.85% and for income funds category it is 6.85%. Just like equity schemes, these funds too are more volatile in the short term and tend to give relatively stable range in returns when you consider a 3- to 5-year period.
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