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US debt, Japanese yen and gold could be the 3 best ‘safe havens’

With December’s monster sell-off in hindsight, many investors are looking for a potential shelter to hide when the market goes wild again. And U.S. Treasuries, Japanese yen and gold could be their best safe havens, according to HSBC.

Traditionally, all three assets have served investors as shelters when risk buffets the markets, given their relative stability and liquidity. Recently, HSBC ran 10 million simulations of various portfolio weightings, and found that short-dated Treasuries are a clear winner with the highest risk-return ratios and hit rates when equity volatility rises. The Japanese yen is in second place, and gold gets the bronze medal, according to HSBC’s head of multi asset strategy Pierre Blanchet.

Treasuries will work even when higher yields are the catalyst for a stock market sell-off, HSBC said.

Yields on the two-year Treasury, the note most sensitive to the central bank’s policy, have doubled to 2.58 percent since the start of 2017 as the Fed has stuck to its rate-hiking agenda. So one would think holding Treasurys, which move inversely to yields, would be a bad idea.

Yen’s long-time safe-haven status is secured based on HSBC’s analysis. When global growth slowdown intensifies, the currency should perform well as it has a large international investment base, HSBC said.

Gold came behind Treasuries and yen for its lower risk-return ratios. Its safe-haven quality was “exacerbated” by the dollar weakness during the last financial crisis, HSBC pointed out. As the dollar weakness is not expected in the next downturn, gold’s allure will be diminished to an extent, the bank said.


 Trader Martin Nikolov


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