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Investing in bonds: Consider the impact of interest rates and inflation before you buy

by , 22 January 2015

You may want to invest in bonds as they provide you with an income and reduce the risk of your portfolio.

So are there optimum times to invest in bonds and bond funds?

It worthwhile considering what's going on with interest rates and inflation. These two economic factors can have an effect on the price of bonds.

Let's take a closer look…


The relationship between interest rates and bonds


The prices of bonds and interest rates move in opposite directions. So if interest rates fall, bond prices rise. In other words, bonds have an inverse relationship with interest rates.

Much of what determines a bond’s price is based on market expectations. And how an economy is performing will determine what happens with interest rates.

If an economy is growing nicely, this means that employment is on the rise, wages are rising and the retail market is benefitting from the extra money in the economy.

This results in companies (who will issue bonds) demanding more cash as they want to take advantage of rising consumer demand.

Inflation (the cost of living) will also start to rise to reflect this demand. This usually results in a rise in interest rates. This is how the government controls inflation.

The bond market tends to anticipate this rise. On the other hand, if the economy is starting to show signs of pressure, this is when bonds tend to perform well.


The impact of inflation on bonds


A government uses interest rates to control inflation. And because of this, expectations of what’s going to happen with inflation tend to affect bond prices too.

When inflation is on the rise, it tends to decrease the price of bonds and increase their yield. In the bond market, this can lead to bondholders selling and taking their profits before the bond price falls.

When inflation is falling, as it is at the moment, this can attract buyers of bonds. They want to benefit from an improving bond price.

For example, yesterday’s data on consumer inflation showed that it eased more than forecast. This led to an influx of bond buyers in the South African market.

So there you have it. Why you should consider the impact of interest rates and inflation before you invest in bonds.

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Investing in bonds: Consider the impact of interest rates and inflation before you buy
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