Traders Step Up Bearish Bets Against Treasury ETFs

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 |  Includes: DLBL, DLBS, DSTJ, DSXJ, DTYL, DTYS, EDV, IEF, ILTB, ITE, LBND, PST, SBND, TBF, TBT, TENZ, TLH, TLO, TLT, TMF, TMV, TYD, TYO, UBT, UST, VGIT, VGLT
by: Tom Lydon

Activity in bond exchange traded funds suggests traders have increased their wagers against U.S. government debt.

As reported earlier this week, ETFs that bet against Treasuries have seen inflows recently as yields rise. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. In options markets, there has also been call buying in ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury (NYSEARCA:TBT), an inverse ETF. This is the equivalent of a bearish bet on long-term Treasury bonds.

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported bearish wagers against ETFs linked to U.S. government debt are at their highest levels in years.

According to Trade Alert, iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (NYSEARCA:TLT) had a put-call ratio of 1.77 at the end of last week, its highest level in around two years, WSJ reports. The higher put-call ratio indicates a larger number of traders seeking to capitalize on possible declines in the ETF.

Meanwhile, TBT was attracting higher inflows and options traders held a record number of TBT calls, with put-call ratios at 0.53 at the end of last week.

“Last week’s call buying in the TBT, alongside the put buying in the TLT, indicated that investors are positioning for a weakness in Treasuries,” Alison Edwards, derivatives-market intelligence analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, commented in the WSJ report.

“You could say that people are hedging TLT after a [24%] run-up [in 2011],” Henry Schwartz, president of Trade Alert, said.

ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury ETF

click to enlarge

Max Chen contributed to this article.

Disclosure: None