How changes in interest rates affect your portfolio

Kavya Balaji   /   April 9, 2020
interest rates affect your portfolio

Consistently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) changes the interest rates in the nation utilising its fiscal strategy. This influences various loans and deposits. You realise that loan rates change. Nonetheless, do you realise that your investments get influenced as well? Interest rate dynamics affect your investments too. In the recent years, RBI has been cutting interest rates. s

Why the rate cut

Lower loan costs encourage consumer spending in the economy. This gives the country a lift when it is in the midst of slower economic growth. Lower interest rates mean lower loan rates and this urges enterprises to obtain and put the cash in maintaining their business. When organisations progress well, the economy does well too.

In this way, the RBI utilises the fiscal strategy to keep the economy fit as a fiddle. At the point when the economy is developing and in great condition, RBI takes measures to increase loan costs to keep inflation under control. RBI controls the repo rate, which impacts long term loan fees in the nation. Repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends cash to banks in case of any deficit. By setting the repo rate, the RBI in a roundabout way changes long term interest rates, which boosts spending and in the long run encourages industrial and economic prosperity.

Now, how does this affect your investments?

Stock investors

Interest rate changes do not have any direct impact on your stocks. However, RBI’s actions can have a trickle-down effect. For instance, when RBI increases interest rates, banks increase their loan rates and increased rates for business loans can cause companies to halt expansions and reduce employment. Reduced business spending will lower the value of a company’s stock. The reverse will be true when RBI cuts interest rates.

However, note that there is no guarantee that a rate cut will positively impact stocks or a rate hike will reduce stock prices. For instance, falling interest rates happen during periods of economic slowdown coinciding with a bear market. So, stock prices might fall. The impact of the interest rate changes will depend on the stock you chose to invest in.

Debt investors

There is a direct correlation between interest rates and fixed income investments. For these investors, change in interest rates can have significant portfolio implications. How? Bonds and interest rates have an inverse relationship. When interest rates fall, bond prices will rise. When interest rates rise for an extended period, bond prices will decrease. Why does this happen? Newly issued bonds will have higher yields after interest rates rise, making bonds with low coupon rates worth much lesser.

Change in interest rates can directly impact bond yields. Long-term bonds having maturity ranging from 10 to 30 years will have substantial effects. Short-term bonds are less affected by interest rate changes.

If you have bond holdings in your portfolio, such as bond funds, liquid funds or money market funds, falling rates mean a lower return on your investment. If there is an increase in interest rates, deposit rates and debt fund returns will go up. However, understand that interest rate changes impact you, as an investor, only if you are going to redeem your bond holdings.

Let’s consider an example. You purchased a bond for Rs. 3,000. The RBI increases the interest rate and our bond’s market value drops to Rs. 2,900. So, the loss is Rs. 100. However, this loss is only on paper and if you hold the bond to maturity, you will still receive Rs. 3,000. Understand that most times bond price decreases will be offset by bond price increases at a later date if you stay invested.

Other investments

If you have invested in commodities, their prices will increase when interest rates fall and prices may fall when interest rates rise. For instance, gold prices touched an all-time high in India after RBI cut interest rates. If you have property holdings, an interest rate cut can be beneficial. Real estate prices are directly related to interest rates due to the cost of financing. Real estate becomes more attractive as interest rates fall. 

What to do?

As interest rate changes can affect investments in different ways, there is no single action you can take. Knowing how to manage your portfolio can help mitigate any potential negative effects. Assess your portfolio and look at how individual asset classes are likely to be impacted by the interest rates. Based on how your portfolio is structured, you can decide whether you should take any action.

You should analyse each investment. For instance, in case of stock investments, try and analyse the industries that might get impacted by interest rate changes. Cyclical industries such as financial institutions, industrial companies, and energy providers tend to perform better when rates rise. Real estate, utilities, and telecommunication, might perform well when interest rates fall. 

If you don’t want to do all this, just build a diversified portfolio made up of quality stocks and bonds. Diversifying can help preserve your overall investment portfolio from the negative effects of changing interest rates in the long run. With a balance of stocks and bonds, your portfolio will be better positioned to maintain stability.

Work with wealth consultants at to understand how you can minimise the risks arising from interest rate changes to your portfolio.

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