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Fixed-Income ETFs Attracting Investors

Fixed-income ETFs have expanded their ranks and attracted new investor interest -- iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (TIP) and iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund (LQD) are helping protect investors from inflation and provide them with riskier bets.

The ETF industry broke records in the month of July, boasting a worldwide high of $862 billion in assets under management. In the U.S., 706 ETFs from 22 providers have attracted $582 billion as of July 31. National Stock Exchange Data shows that fixed-income ETFs accounted for 86 billion in assets at the end of July.

TIP and LQD are the top two biggest asset gatherers for ETF giant iShares in 2009. Year-to-date, both funds have attracted more than 5 billion in assets.

The corporate bond market has improved dramatically in 2009 as investors regain their appetites for risk. As the spread between Treasuries and corporate bonds tightened, investors looked for ways to get involved in the upswing. Investors have been using funds like the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF (JNK) ETF to participate in the surging corporate-debt tide.

Funds like LQD and the aptly named JNK take some of the pressure out of corporate bond investing. Since the funds invest in a portfolio of bonds, investors can access greater liquidity than can be found in markets for single bond issues. Credit risk is still a concern, but having it spread over a portfolio of creditors is less risky than having to depend on one.

On the other side of the spectrum, some investors continue to worry that increased government spending will ultimately result in inflation. TIP invests in inflation-protected securities to protect investors from inflation fears. This fund is an inexpensive way to protect against these concerns and the credit risk on these securities is essentially zero.

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