No Energy In New High Yield Bond ETF

Beaten-down energy sector left out of new bond fund.

Reviewed by: Trevor Hunnicutt
Edited by: Trevor Hunnicutt
(Reuters) – BlackRock is planning to unveil a new U.S.-listed exchange-traded fund that will invest in all areas of the junk-bond market except the tattered energy sector, the asset manager said in a regulatory filing this week.

The first-of-its kind fund, the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield ex-Energy Corporate Bond ETF, will come after a sharp decline in oil prices that has routed higher-yield bonds.

The ETF will track a Markit-brand index containing lower-rated corporate debt except those bonds issued by oil and gas producers, as well as suppliers of equipment and services to that industry.

Plans for the ETF were disclosed late Monday in a BlackRock filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The New York-based asset manager declined to comment.

Oil Price Slide Beat Up Bonds

As oil prices slid from 2014 to earlier this year, investors punished bonds of those companies, pricing in fears of greater defaults by overextended drillers, explorers, pipeline companies and related firms.

U.S. crude prices slid about 76% from June 20, 2014 to $26.05 a barrel by Feb. 11, 2016, nearly a 13-year low. Over the same period, the BofA Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Energy Index tumbled about 46%.

Over one-year period through Monday, the widely traded $16.5 HYG sank by 5.3%, according to Lipper. Energy makes up more than a tenth of that ETF's portfolio, according to BlackRock, the issuer.

Yet oil has rebounded and, with it, prices of bonds in the energy sector. U.S. crude was trading above $38 a barrel on Tuesday, and the high-yield energy index has rebounded 26% from its February low. HYG, the broad junk-bond market ETF, is up 2.8% over the four-week period that ended Monday, Lipper data shows.

Trevor Hunnicutt is a staff writer for Reuters.