Buying Bonds Abroad

For a number of years, investing in foreign bonds was relatively hard. With the launch of the SPDR Lehman International Treasury Bond ETF (AMEX: BWX  ) earlier this month, however, investors now have a readily available way to get exposure to non-U.S. fixed-income securities. Surging global markets and a sinking dollar are two of many reasons why investing in bond markets beyond our borders is attractive.

The ETF is an intermediate bond fund with an average maturity of eight years. It has an average coupon of 4.36% and an expense ratio of 0.50%. The fund tracks the Lehman Brothers Global Treasury Index, which excludes U.S. Treasuries and currently has exposure to 17 countries, with the largest weights in Japan (23%), Germany (13%), and Italy (12%). It has a fairly strong average credit rating of AA2, with nearly half of its holdings in AAA-rated securities, 39% in AA, and the remaining 11% in A.

There will probably be many more fixed-income ETFs to come that will provide investors exposure outside the United States. But if you're looking to benefit from the expanding global economy and interest-rate movements overseas, and you want diversification across a range of developed and emerging markets, then this fund is worth a look.

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