Checking in on the Bond Market

David Brancaccio Dec 15, 2011

Lots of not-so-terrible news was enough to put markets in positive territory today, but not by much. It gives us a chance to take a step back and talk about something different. Our pick? Bonds.

Guy LeBas is the Chief Fixed Income Strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “Fixed income” is the code for a bond man. With about $34 trillion wrapped up in the bond markets, we thought it’s time to give the bond market its due.

LeBas says he uses treasury bonds as a bellwether, but they’re a relatively small portion of any individual’s portfolio. Treasuries are seen as safe investments and are seen as weak today because investors are up for some risk these days.

Municipal bonds are issued by local governments, public utilities, and other governmental agencies. This time of year, they’re scarce. Guy LeBas says folks issuing municipal bonds take things a bit slower at the end of the year, too. He adds that 2011 has been slow for municipal bonds in general. Good news for investors, as with most things, scarcity has driven the prices higher.

Finally, if bonds aren’t your thing, you may be interested in a mortgage. Thirty-year fixed rate mortgages in the U.S. hit an all-time low today at just 3.94 percent. Now, if you can just find a bank who will lend you one.

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