Are bonds affected by the stock market?

Bonds are essentially loans, extended to corporations and governments. Interest payments on bonds remain the same for the life of the loan. You receive the principal amount at the end of the term, assuming there are no defaults.

The value of a bond changes over time. This is only important if you are considering selling in the secondary market. Bond returns, also called ‘yields’ are compared against other bonds — low yielding bonds or low S&P ratings are not as valuable as high yield bonds.

How are bonds affected by the stock market?

Bonds affect the stock market because stock prices tend to rise as bonds fall, and vice versa. Bonds compete with stocks for the investor's dollar, as bonds are often considered safer than stocks. However, bonds usually have lower yields.

When the economy is booming, shares tend to work out better. As consumers buy more, demand increases, meaning higher profits for businesses and confidence for investors. A great way to overcome inflation is to sell bonds and buy stocks when the economy is booming. When the economy slows, consumer purchases fall, corporate profits fall, and stock prices fall. In that case, investors prefer to pay the usual interest guaranteed by bonds.

Relationship between stocks and bonds

As a result of too much liquidity chasing very few investments, the value of both — stocks and bonds — can rise at the same time. This can happen if some investors are optimistic and others pessimistic.

Both stocks and bonds can also fall. This is usually the case when an investor panics and sells his investment.

Bonds or stocks: which is better?

Deciding which is a better investment for you depends on two things:

  1. What are your personal goals?

    Bonds are a good choice if you want to avoid losing capital and receive regular interest payments, and inflation is not a cause of worry. If you retire, or if you need to use capital gains, they may even be preferable.

    If you can hold your stock when the price goes down, you don't need running income, and you want to overcome inflation, stocks are the better option.

  2. How is the economy doing?

    In the context of economic activity, business cycles are the ‘ups and downs’, defined in terms of periods of expansion or recession. The stock of a business in the expansion phase offers more profit. The stock value increases as the business’ earnings increase. On the other hand, bonds are better investments when it is receding. They protect your investment while providing income.

Final word

Irrespective of how bonds affect the stock market, the right option for you depends on your financial goals, but it is wise to have a diverse portfolio that combines both.

Frequently Asked Questions Expand All

When investors anticipate a recession, bond prices generally rise and stock prices generally fall.

Bonds affect the stock market because stock prices go up when bonds go down. As bond prices go up, stock prices tend to go down.