The bond market's prescience of the recent spike in interest rates can be seen in data showing investors shifting away from long bonds last month.
As the yield curve began to edge from an inverted posture back toward a more normalized positive slope, short-maturity bond funds began to emerge as performance leaders.
Of the 10 leading performers, the word "short" appears four times in the investment objective column.
In May, investors were already favoring short maturities in moves to immunize their holdings from the price implosions that accompany higher long-term interest rates.
The laggards list, on the other hand, shows that bonds with longer maturities, including a couple that mature in 2020 and 2025, had already begun to lose favor.
Even though the best performing bond fund was the globally focused Staar Investment Trust Alternative Categories Fund, the domination of the laggards' roster by five global income funds provided added indication that fixed-income fund holders were already tending to eschew the riskier fringes of the bond market.
All but one of the May winners was also ahead for the year to date, with eight from that group up by double-digit percentages for the latest 12 months.
All the May laggards were also under water for the year to date, with none showing double-digit percentage gains for the most recent 12 months.
Richard Widows is a financial analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.