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UPDATE 1-Now not time to take more risk in junk bonds -BlackRock's Rieder
March 16, 2017 / 1:00 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Now not time to take more risk in junk bonds -BlackRock's Rieder

(Adds performance figures)

By Trevor Hunnicutt

NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - Markets are emboldened by the tone of monetary policymakers following an interest rate hike on Wednesday, but now is not the time to take on more risk in U.S. corporate debt, top BlackRock Inc bond investor Rick Rieder said.

Rieder, BlackRock’s chief investment officer of global fixed income, also told Reuters on the phone that markets need to see some kind of agreement on U.S. tax policy reforms by summertime.

“The August recess is a very important date, and I think if we’re in the summer and it doesn’t look like we’re getting things done then risk markets, inflation markets would come under pressure,” he said.

BlackRock managed more than $5.1 trillion in assets on Dec. 31.

The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday for the second time in three months, but stocks and bonds both rallied as policymakers did not signal a plan to significantly accelerate the pace of monetary tightening.

“If you have any concerns about them shocking the system from a rapid rate rise they were pretty clear that’s not coming,” he said.

The iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the lower-grade corporate market, had its best showing since November, rising 1.4 percent on Wednesday following price declines for the better part of the month.

“Emerging markets are more attractive than high yield at these levels,” Rieder said.

Rieder said on Feb. 1 the Fed would raise rates three or four times this year, a prediction he made when markets anticipated a fewer than one-in-five chance of a rate hike on Wednesday.

Speeches by Fed officials after Feb. 1 pushed markets to conclude the most recent hike was all-but-inevitable and suggested they could embark on a more “hawkish” rate-hike trajectory to tamp inflation risks as U.S. President Donald Trump and his Republican party tout tax cuts, infrastructure spending and other fiscal stimulus measures.

Institutional shares of the Strategic Income Opportunities Fund run by Rieder are up 3.6 percent a year for the last five years, beating 89 percent of its peers, according to Thomson Reuters Lipper. (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Chris Reese)

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