Quick view: Italian elections - a fixed income perspective

05/03/2018

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​Tom Ross, Portfolio Manager within Janus Henderson's Global Credit Team, considers the impact of the Italian elections on fixed income markets.
 
 
On 4 March 2018 the Italian elections took place, which resulted in a hung parliament with no party gaining a majority. At midday on 5 March, the anti-establishment party, Five Star Movement, had unsurprisingly harnessed the most support with a projected 32.5% of the votes, illustrating there is strong populist backing amongst Italian voters similar to what was seen in the most recent UK and US elections.  The left-wing Democratic Party looks set to have achieved 18.7% of the vote, while on the right the Northern League (Lega) received 17.5%, followed by Forza Italia at 14%. All in all, the election result was more populist than expected.
 
Italian credit did not really widen in anticipation of the elections. In trading on the morning of 5 March as polls started to appear, Italian government bond yields moved marginally higher and credit spreads widened a little but the overall market reaction has been limited. Our funds were positioned either underweight or neutral Italian risk going into the elections, which was largely a result of our bottom-up security selection and tight valuations rather than an expectation of the outcome of the election. Given that movements in Italian risk have been well contained and Italian political uncertainty is likely to prevail until a coalition government is formed, we are unlikely to favour adding to Italian risk at this point.
 
From an overall portfolio beta perspective, our funds were also cautiously positioned for reasons other than politics. Fund flows across markets have weakened; there is growing expectation that the European Central Bank’s bond purchasing programmes are likely to end this year, which will remove a less price-sensitive buyer of debt securities from the market; and spreads across most asset classes remain tight offering limited upside.
 
While the relative success of the eurosceptic Five Star Movement (which as the biggest party looks set to form the backbone of any government) and Lega means there will be a shift in politics in Italy, which could result in struggles in getting a reform agenda passed, it is unlikely to be existential for the European Union. The Brexit negotiations are revealing the challenging economic realities of potentially losing frictionless access to your nearest trading partners. We would anticipate some horse trading between parties – clearly job creation and dealing with immigration will be high on the agenda for whoever takes power.

These are the views of the author at the time of publication and may differ from the views of other individuals/teams at Janus Henderson Investors. Any securities, funds, sectors and indices mentioned within this article do not constitute or form part of any offer or solicitation to buy or sell them.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested.

The information in this article does not qualify as an investment recommendation.

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Janus Henderson Credit Alpha Fund

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Janus Henderson Horizon Euro Corporate Bond Fund

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  • If a Fund has a high exposure to a particular country or geographical region it carries a higher level of risk than a Fund which is more broadly diversified.
  • The value of a bond or money market instrument may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • If the Fund or a specific share class of the Fund seeks to reduce risks (such as exchange rate movements), the measures designed to do so may be ineffective, unavailable or detrimental.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

Risk rating

Janus Henderson Horizon Euro High Yield Bond Fund

Specific risks

  • This fund is designed to be used only as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this fund.
  • The Fund could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Fund.
  • If a Fund has a high exposure to a particular country or geographical region it carries a higher level of risk than a Fund which is more broadly diversified.
  • The value of a bond or money market instrument may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • If the Fund or a specific share class of the Fund seeks to reduce risks (such as exchange rate movements), the measures designed to do so may be ineffective, unavailable or detrimental.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

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