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No matter what you hear about investors dumping bonds, sales of bond ETFs are doing just fine.

First-quarter money flows into exchange-traded funds show fixed-income funds grabbing more than $1.8-billion in assets, according to National Bank Financial. That’s a modest amount in comparison with, say, the $5.1-billion taken in by Canadian equity funds. But in some of the worst conditions ever seen by many for bonds, investors are still adding fixed-income funds to their portfolio.

The clear preference for ETF investors is the aggregate bond ETF, which includes both government and corporate bonds maturing in the near, medium and long term. These funds were down close to 8 per cent for the year through early April, but they offer cheap, efficient access to the entire bond market in a way that suits long-term investors willing to take the pain in a rising rate cycle and then reap the gains of falling rates. The bond market slump of 2022 is all about the rise of rates in response to persistent inflation.

March was a particularly decent month for bond ETFs, given how the narrative of sinking bond prices has taken hold. NBF said the monthly inflow was the largest so far in 2022. Among the bond ETFs with the highest inflows were the Horizons Canadian Select Universe Bond ETF (HBB-T) and the BMO Aggregate Bond Index ETF (ZAG-T).

Singled out by NBF for their outflows were corporate bond ETFs, including the BMO Short Corporate Bond Index ETF (ZCS-T) and the BMO Mid Corporate Bond Index ETF (ZCM-T). Long-term bond ETFs also saw outflows, as did preferred share funds. Preferred shares offer fixed income through their quarterly dividend payments, but they behave more like stocks than bonds.

The rate outlook has tilted recently to higher, faster increases in borrowing costs, and that suggests more downside for bond ETFs. Two thoughts on why investors are still buying these funds: To hedge against declines in a stock market that has been shaking off a lot of bad news lately, and to lock in yields that are well higher than 12 months ago.

The yield on the FTSE Canada Universe Bond Index was a bit more than 3 per cent in early April, double what it was in winter 2021.

-- Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist

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Stocks to ponder

GFL Environmental Inc. (GFL-T) Over the past month, GFL’s share price has rallied 15.5 per cent, making it the top-performing stock in the S&P/TSX Industrials Sector Index. GFL has a number of potential catalysts that may give the share price additional momentum in the near-term, including announcement of a sizeable acquisition and details about the streamlining of its operations with the divesture of its non-core infrastructure division. The stock has 11 buy recommendations with a forecast return of 30 per cent. Jennifer Dowty has this profile of the stock.

The Rundown

Rising mortgage rates are clobbering home building stocks. Now may be the time to buy

Few sectors of the stock market have been hit as badly as U.S. home builders this year, as investors worry that rising interest rates will clobber demand for new homes. The stocks are worth a closer look, though, if you can handle some ugly numbers, says David Berman. By most accounts, the U.S. housing market is on solid ground.

What to do if that financial plan you paid thousands for disappoints

The rise of financial planning done transparently for a flat or hourly fee is one of the most positive developments in the world of money over the past decade. But providing financial plans is a service like accounting or providing legal advice, and sometimes the customer isn’t satisfied with what they get for the $1,500 to $5,000 cost of a plan. What then? Rob Carrick has some answers.

What $1.6-billion money manager Dan Goodman is buying and selling

Dan Goodman of GFI Investment Counsel, who manages about $1.6-billion in assets and whose equity portfolios returned 17.5 per cent over the past 10 years, tells Brenda Bouw what he’s been buying and selling of late, and provides a taste of some of his best investing advice.

Beaten-down growth stocks alluring as Fed slows U.S. economy

Some investors are looking for bargains in beaten-down growth and tech stocks, betting they will shine as the Federal Reserve fights to slow the U.S. economy and tame red-hot inflation. David Randall of Reuters reports.

When it comes to investing, slow and steady does win the race

Many people think that investing is only for those who have lots of money, time and skill, but this is not the case. Sam Sivarajan shows how the concepts of compounding and consistency can really work wonders for portfolios over time.

Others (for subscribers)

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Monday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

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Globe Advisor

Prices of EVs jump on battery and materials shortages but experts say investors will be rewarded in long run

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Ask Globe Investor

Question: Is the gain realized from the Canada/U.S. exchange rate tax exempt if I sell my stock? – Keith M.

Answer: No. For tax purposes, every foreign transaction is converted back to Canadian dollars, using the Bank of Canada’s exchange rate that was in effect on the day of the transaction. If there were transactions at various times during the year, you can consult the monthly or annual exchange rates at Exchange Rates

--Gordon Pape (Send questions to me at gpape@rogers.com and write Globe Question in the subject line.)

What’s up in the days ahead

Philip MacKellar of The Contra Guys profiles a dividend-paying oil and gas royalty stock that is well positioned to ride out the turmoil in Ukraine and global energy markets.

Click here to see the Globe Investor earnings and economic news calendar.

Have your say

Are you interested in being interviewed about your first stock purchase? Globe Investor is looking for Canadians to discuss their experience as part of this new, ongoing feature. If you’d like to be interviewed, please write to: jcowan@globeandmail.com with “My First Stock” in the subject line and include a short description of your first stock purchase.

Compiled by Globe Investor Staff