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Are Short-Term Treasury ETFs a Good Bet?

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U.S. Treasury yields have been somewhat seesawing as multiple factors are impacting the markets at the moment. Despite relatively strong economic fundamentals, trade war fears have made investors question their portfolio allocations and reallocate their assets to counter high volatility.

Appeal for Short-Term Treasuries

After announcing tariffs on around $50 billion worth of goods from China, President Trump has threatened to impose further tariffs. His stance on trade has not been beneficial for the markets and his all-out declaration of war on China’s trade did little to alleviate market uncertainty (read: China's $50B Tariff Backlash Puts These ETF Areas in Focus).

China announced retaliatory tariffs in response to Trump’s policies, to which Trump replied, “In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs.”

Although market experts expect this to be a mere negotiation tactic, it has already led investors to safeguard their portfolios by allocating enough money to safer assets, in the event of a potential market breakdown. For instance, per etf.com data, iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF (SHY - Free Report) has witnessed $450.7 million in inflows in the Mar 29-Apr 4 period.

Moving on to interest rates, The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 25 basis points in Powell’s first meeting as chairman. The new benchmark funds rate was increased to 1.5% to 1.75% in March. Per the CME Fed watch tool, two more hikes are expected in 2018. However, if rates are hiked faster than expected, short-term bonds will do a great job in protecting investors from the impact of rate hikes, since these are less sensitive to interest rate changes.

Moreover, widening budget deficits owing to President Trump’s tax reform and an increase in government spending have driven government debt issuance to record highs.

Let us now discuss some ETFs focused on providing exposure to U.S. Treasuries (see all Government Bond ETFs here).

iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF (SHY - Free Report)

This fund seeks to provide exposure to short-term U.S. Treasury bonds.

With $11.9 billion in AUM, it charges a fee of 15 basis points a year. It has an effective duration of 1.94 years and a weighted average maturity of 2.00 years. The fund has lost 0.2% in a year as well as in the year-to-date frame. SHY has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a High risk outlook.

SPDR Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL - Free Report)

This fund seeks to provide exposure to U.S. Treasury bonds in a short-maturity spectrum.

It has AUM of $3.3 billion and charges a fee of 13 basis points a year. It has option adjusted duration of 0.15 years and an average maturity of 0.15 years. The fund has returned 1% in a year and 0.4% year to date. BIL has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.

Schwab Short-Term U.S. Treasury ETF (SCHO - Free Report)

This fund seeks to provide exposure to short-term U.S. Treasury bonds.

It has AUM of $2.3 billion and charges a fee of 6 basis points a year. It has an effective duration of 1.95 years and a weighted average maturity of 2.00 years. The fund has lost 0.1% in a year and 0.2% year to date. SCHO has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.

Vanguard Short-Term Treasury ETF (VGSH - Free Report)

This fund is another popular option to gain exposure to short-term U.S. Treasury bonds.

It has AUM of $2.1 billion and charges a fee of 7 basis points a year. It has an effective duration of 2.00 years and a weighted average maturity of 2.00 years. The fund has lost 0.2% in a year and 0.3% year to date. VGSH has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.

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