Market Sector Update
- The U.S. Treasury market had a strong third quarter. Concerns over growth in China and declines in its equity market helped feed the Treasury rally.
- The final read on second quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 3.9%. Economic growth for the third quarter is expected to come in about 1.5% to 2.0%. The unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent in the third quarter to 5.1%, very close to the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) definition of full employment. Several other key economic readings were also strong.
- In spite of the relatively good domestic economy, the Fed chose not to raise the federal funds rate at its September meeting, stating concerns about China and the financial market instability for its inaction.
- In the second quarter we shortened duration in anticipation of a rate hike in September. When we didn’t get the rate hike that many in the market were expecting, we lengthened duration from approximately 85% of the benchmark to approximately 90-95% of the benchmark.
- We lengthened duration using U.S. Treasuries and increased our overall holdings in U.S. Treasury securities. We remain underweight the long end of the curve, as the potential risks of having an over-exposure to long duration are large.
- The yield curve on mortgage-backed securities keeps us from having a greater exposure there right now. We do look for opportunities, however, to add mortgage-backed securities which we believe to not present much extension risk when rates rise.
- When interest rates are higher, we expect to see better opportunities to expand the agency mortgage-backed securities portfolio, which we believe could increase the total return of the Fund.
- It’s not clear whether the Fed will feel confident enough to raise rates in 2015. If U.S. economic data remains stable and the rest of the world doesn’t worsen, then a December rate increase is quite possible. The Fed has indicated they expect to raise rates very gradually once they do start the process.
- The Fed has said that the lack of inflation in the United States isn’t a huge problem, as the primary forces keeping it low — falling energy and commodity prices — are transitory.
- The volatility seen so far in 2015 has shown no signs of waning. Each good economic data point brings us closer to a rate hike, while each negative surprise puts Fed action on hold. Both positive and negative news have a significant impact on the price action in the U.S. Treasury market.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the Portfolio's managers and are current through Sept. 30, 2015. The managers' views are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions, and no forecasts can be guaranteed. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Risk factors. As with any fund, the value of the Portfolio's shares will change, and you could lose money on your investment. An investment in the Portfolio is not a bank deposit and is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Fixed income securities are subject to interest rate risk and, as such, the net asset value of the Portfolio may fall as interest rate rise. These and other risks are more fully described in the Portfolio's prospectus.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of a fund carefully before investing. For a prospectus, or if available, a summary prospectus, containing this and other information for the mutual funds offered by Waddell & Reed, call your f nancial advisor or visit us online at www.waddell.com. Please read the i prospectus or summary prospectus carefully before investing.