Treasury exchange-traded funds (ETFs) enable investors to gain exposure to the U.S. government bond market through a stock-like instrument. Unlike individual bonds that are sold by bond brokers, bond ETFs trade on market exchanges. Treasury ETFs offer investors a way to gain passive, and often broad, exposure to U.S. Treasury bonds. They are composed of a basket of Treasury securities, typically with a focus on a particular maturity or range of maturities. On Aug. 9, 2021, the 10-year Treasury yield was 1.33%, while it was 0.59% on Aug. 10, 2020. Yields have risen, especially since the start of this year, as the economy continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The price of Treasury securities and their yield move in opposite directions, so rising yields mean falling prices and vice versa.
The Treasury ETFs with the best one-year trailing total return are IVOL, TDTF, and TIPX.
The top holding of the first of these ETFs are shares of the Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF, and the top holdings of the other two are U.S. Treasury notes.
There are 43 distinct U.S. Treasury ETFs that trade in the U.S., excluding inverse and leveraged ETFs as well as funds with less than $50 million in assets under management (AUM). This list contains all U.S. Treasury ETFs, including Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities ETFs, or TIPS ETFs for short.
Treasurys, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Treasury Index, have significantly underperformed the broader market, providing a total return of -3.4% over the past 12 months compared to the S&P 500’s total return of 34.5%, as of Aug. 6, 2021.The best Treasury ETF, based on performance over the past year, is the Quadratic Interest Rate Volatility & Inflation Hedge ETF (IVOL). We examine the top three best Treasury ETFs below. All numbers are as of Aug. 9, 2021.
Performance over One-Year: 6.7%
Expense Ratio: 0.99%
Annual Dividend Yield: 3.60%
Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 1,735,915
Assets Under Management: $3.2 billion
Inception Date: May 13, 2019
IVOL is designed to hedge against interest rate volatility, a steepening yield curve, and inflation. It seeks to protect investors against the loss of purchasing power while providing opportunities to profit from changes in interest rates. The fund gains its main exposure to TIPS by investing in another ETF, the Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF (SCHP). But it also utilizes options in order to achieve its investment objectives.
Performance over One-Year: 6.3%
Expense Ratio: 0.18%
Annual Dividend Yield: 3.23%
Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 112,622
Assets Under Management: $665.1 million
Inception Date: Sept. 19, 2011
Issuer: Northern Trust
TDTF tracks the iBoxx 5-Year Target Duration TIPS Index, which is designed to measure the performance of short-term TIPS. The ETF provides protection against the corrosive effects of inflation as well as targeted duration exposure by investing in TIPS with an average duration of approximately five years.
TDTF can be used in either a buy-and-hold strategy or as a tactical play to shift allocation toward low-risk assets in anticipation of a sharp uptick in inflation. Its top three holdings include two different sets of U.S. Treasury notes and a set of U.S. Treasury bonds.
Performance over One-Year: 6.1%
Expense Ratio: 0.15%
Annual Dividend Yield: 3.44%
Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 329,662
Assets Under Management: $847.9 million
Inception Date: May 29, 2013
Issuer: State Street
TIPX tracks the Bloomberg Barclays 1-10 Year U.S. Government Inflation-Linked Bond Index, which gauges the performance of TIPS that have a remaining maturity greater than or equal to one year and less than ten years. The ETF seeks to hedge against inflation by investing in TIPS with maturities matching those of its index. About one-third of its holdings have maturities in the three to five-year range. Its top three holdings are three different sets of U.S. Treasury notes.
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