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Markets reacted strongly following the UK’s surprising vote to leave the EU. Yields of developed market government bonds came down significantly as investors fled into safe asset classes. Risky assets were under pressure. Credit spreads widened and the British pound experienced its biggest drop in 30 years versus the dollar.
Robeco Global Total Return Bond Fund is positioned defensively with nearly 75% invested in safe government bonds such as those issued by the US, Germany and Canada. Yields for these bonds came down, and the fund benefited. The total return of the fund on Friday 24 June 2016 turned out positive.
Another important position that performed well after the Brexit vote has been the anticipated flattening of the long end of the yield curve. Long-dated government bonds performed better than short-dated ones, which indeed resulted in a flattening of the curve.
The uncertainty about the effect that Brexit will have on the political landscape in Europe resulted in a widening of peripheral spreads (the 10-year spread between Italian and German government bonds widened from 130 to 160 basis points). Robeco Global Total Return Bond Fund has no exposure at all to peripheral government bonds which worked out well.
Robeco Global Total Return Bond Fund’s exposure to subordinated financials and UK banks did suffer from high volatility on Friday. However, after spreads of financials widened significantly in the direct aftermath of the Brexit, they did recovered to some extent in the course of the day.
The exposure to emerging local debt was holding up well helped by the notion that a Brexit further reduces the likeliness of further rate hikes. This should play out well for emerging markets