Retail Investors Fear Inflation, Pour Record Cash Into TIPS ETFs

(Bloomberg) -- Retail investors aren’t waiting to see the full whites of inflation’s eyes.

Rather, they’re running at a record pace into securities that hedge against risks of rising price pressures as the Labor Department is set to give its latest reading on consumer prices Tuesday.

The U.S. CPI already is rising at an annual pace of more than 2 percent, and higher prices at the gas pump helped sparked a record $1.2 billion inflow last week into the top 10 exchange-traded funds focused on Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), according to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysis using data going back to 2005. Over the past two weeks, a total of $1.74 billion has flowed into these ETFs -- comparable to the amount seen during a similar-sizer period surrounding the 2016 presidential election period.

Retail Investors Fear Inflation, Pour Record Cash Into TIPS ETFs

Rising gasoline prices probably helped fuel a 2.7 percent year-over-year surge in the May consumer-price index, the biggest advance since February 2017, economists forecast for the report Tuesday. The core CPI is projected to climb 2.2 percent, the most in more than a year.

“Strong demand for TIPS likely contributed to the outperformance” of TIPS securities last week with breakeven inflation rates rising, JPMorgan strategist Kimberly Harano wrote in a note on June 8. “Stay bullish on breakevens,” she added, recommending the five-year maturity.

The breakeven inflation rate (traders’ outlook for CPI over the years ahead) signaled by 10-year inflation-linked Treasuries traded Monday at 2.13 percent, up from 2.09 percent at the end of last month and from 1.78 percent a year ago.

Retail Investors Fear Inflation, Pour Record Cash Into TIPS ETFs

The CPI’s anticipated move higher sets the stage for economists’ predictions that the Federal Reserve will likely this week lift the target rate range by 25 basis points Wednesday.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.