(Reuters) – Credit markets rose on Wednesday as results from a tight U.S. presidential race continued to trickle in, fueled by expectations that lawmakers will eventually provide fiscal stimulus to stave off the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic regardless of who wins the White House.
Exchange-traded funds tracking credit markets moved in step with Wall Street’s main indexes, which had gained around 2% or more on the day. The iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF was last up 0.79% to $85.11 with the equivalent high grade ETF – the iShares iBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF – up 1.44% to $136.02.
The U.S. presidential election hung in the balance on Wednesday, with Democrat Joe Biden leading in critical states that could tip the contest in his favor over Republican President Donald Trump. But emerging results from down-ballot races pointed to Republicans maintaining a majority in the Senate.
The rally in credit reflected bets that a potentially divided government will still pass a coronavirus relief stimulus package, though the amount may be smaller than was expected in a broad Democratic victory, investors said.
“We still believe there are reasonable prospects for stimulus, even before year end,” said Dan Ivascyn, chief investment officer of PIMCO.
“With an election outcome closer to status quo versus what the market had expected, we would expect less aggressive fiscal stimulus with potentially more monetary policy support in its place,” he said.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday cited the need for Congress to approve a new coronavirus aid bill and to do so by the end of 2020.
A Republican Senate was also seen by investors as less likely to approve tax increases or increased corporate regulation, another potential factor in Wednesday’s rally, investors said.
“Some of the concerns that existed under a ‘blue wave’ – of higher taxes, of much greater regulation – those are largely off the table, or dialed back significantly,” said Jason Draho, U.S. head of asset allocation Americas at UBS.
European credit markets rallied earlier in the day, with the iTraxx Europe crossover index of credit default swaps, which measures the cost of insuring exposure to a basket of sub-investment grade European companies, fell about nine basis points on Wednesday to 337.95.
“You’re seeing on the one hand a bit of a defensive positioning in Treasury bonds, but on the other hand you’re seeing people kind of selectively play in high-yield, investment-grade credit and perhaps in that technology equities sector as well,” said Mona Mahajan, U.S. investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.
Reporting by Kate Duguid; Editing by Lisa Shumaker