01 June 2021
VanEck Blogs | Emerging Market Bonds
EM High Yield Bonds Withstand Rising Rates

Emerging markets high yield corporate bonds have been the brightest spot within emerging markets debt in the past year, despite the increase in U.S. interest rates that began last summer and accelerated at the beginning of 2021.1 This segment of the market may also be relatively more insulated from higher local interest rates and fluctuations in the U.S. dollar, while the global exposure of many of the issuers allows the category to benefit from the spike in expected global growth rates this year. At the same time, emerging markets high yield corporates are one of the few areas where investors can still find yields that are still well above 5%.

Emerging Markets High Yield Corporates Have Outperformed Amid Rising Rates

Emerging Markets High Yield Corporates Have Outperformed Amid Rising Rates

  Index Wtd. Average Yield Effective Duration
EM HY Corporates ICE BofA Diversified High Yield US Emerging Markets Corporate Plus Index 5.41 3.6
Local EM Sovereign JPM GBI-EM Global Diversified Index 4.81 5.2
USD EM Sovereign JPM EMBI Global Diversified Index 4.44 7.9
Broad EM Corporates ICE BofA US Emerging Markets Liquid Corporate Plus Index 3.46 5.3

Source: ICE Data Indices, J.P. Morgan and Morningstar, as of 5/21/2021. Timeframe for data reflects rise of interest rates.

The lower interest rate sensitivity of emerging markets high yield corporates, compared to other U.S. dollar denominated emerging markets debt sectors, has been a key driver of outperformance versus broad emerging markets corporate debt over the past year as interest rates rose (see index definitions in table above). Emerging markets high yield corporates have a duration of 3.6, compared to 5.3 of broad emerging markets corporates and nearly 8 of USD emerging markets sovereigns. Further, the segment’s duration has remained close to where it was five years ago. The duration of USD emerging markets sovereigns, on the other hand, has extended significantly from about 6.7 five years ago, while the duration of broad emerging markets corporates was about 4.6 five years ago.2

In addition to the shorter duration, emerging markets high yield corporates benefit from a high average spread, which provides a potential cushion against rising rates. Year-to-date through 5/21/21, the average spread has tightened by 41 basis points, nearly offsetting the 47 basis point increase in the 5-Year U.S. Treasury Yield. The upshot, of course, is that spreads are now at historically tight levels. However, emerging markets high yield corporates continue to provide a spread pickup of 135 basis points versus U.S. high yield corporate bonds3. Further, with what we view as expected strong global growth, continued accommodation by central banks and very benign credit conditions, it is difficult to identify a likely catalyst for widening out, particularly if the recent calmer tone in U.S. interest rates continues. In addition, we believe with the current high exposure to Energy (15%) and Basic Industry (16%), emerging markets yield corporates may continue to benefit from the upswing in global commodity prices.


This material may only be used outside of the United States.

This is not an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation of any offer to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned herein. Fund holdings will vary. For a complete list of holdings in VanEck Mutual Funds and VanEck Vectors ETFs, please visit our website at www.vaneck.com.

The information presented does not involve the rendering of personalized investment, financial, legal, or tax advice. Certain statements contained herein may constitute projections, forecasts and other forward looking statements, which do not reflect actual results. Information provided by third-party sources are believed to be reliable and have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. Any opinions, projections, forecasts, and forward-looking statements presented herein are valid as of the date of this communication and are subject to change without notice. The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily those of VanEck.

The views contained herein are not to be taken as advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any investment in any jurisdiction, nor is it a commitment from Van Eck Associates Corporation or its subsidiaries to participate in any transactions in any companies mentioned herein. This content is published in the United States. Investors are subject to securities and tax regulations within their applicable jurisdictions that are not addressed herein.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. As with any investment strategy, there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be met and investors may lose money. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Fran Rodilosso
Head of Fixed Income ETF Portfolio Management, CFA