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6 Month Vs 1-Year Treasury Bills: Understanding The Differences And Choosing The Right Option

Currently, interest rates on long-term bonds are lower than those on shorter-term bonds.

Demand for Treasury bills, or T-bills for short, has increased among local investors due to the recent rise in interest rates. These short-term debt instruments, issued and backed by the Singapore government, provide a safe investment option for parking excess savings. The T-bills are available in two tenors: 6-month and 1-year.

The choice of tenor is crucial when investing in the T-bills, whether through cash, supplementary retirement scheme (SRS) funds, or CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) funds. It not only affects the yield that you will receive but also impacts the risks associated with your investment.

Though it might be tempting to lock in the rates for a longer tenor as the yields on the latest 6-month T-bill inch close to 4% per annum (p.a.), it’s important to understand the differences between the two tenors before deciding on the suitable option.

Read Also: Treasury Bills (T-bills): What Are They And How You Can Buy Them

Duration And Maturity

The primary difference between a 6-month and 1-year T-bill lies in the tenor, or duration, of the debt instrument. As the name suggests, a 6-month T-bill has a maturity period of 6 months, while a 1-year T-bill matures after one year of issuance.

Which of these two you choose depends on your investment goals and liquidity needs. For instance, if you’re intending to maximise the returns for short-term expenses like wedding costs, home renovation, or year-end travel, then the shorter-duration 6-month T-bill might be ideal. On the other hand, if you’re investing your savings for the long term without an immediate need for the savings, the longer-duration 1-year T-bill offers greater investment return certainty.

Return On Investment

The tenor of the debt instrument also affects the yield, or return on investment. Typically, all else being equal, a bond with a longer maturity tends to have a higher interest rate compared to a shorter-term bond. This is to compensate the investor for bearing the higher interest rate risk associated with longer-duration bonds.

However, due to the hawkish interest rate policy the US Fed adopted this year, shorter-term bond yields are now higher than longer-term bond yields. This relationship between yield and bond maturity is depicted by the inverse yield curve below.

Source: World Government Bonds

This means you may get lower yields on the 1-year T-bills compared to the 6-month T-bills. The difference in yields can be observed by looking at historical month-end yield rates since 2022.

Based on the above two tables, the yields on the 1-year T-bills were slightly higher than the 6-month T-bills at the start of 2022. However, since September 2022, the rates on 6-month T-bills have stayed higher than the 1-year T-bills. Currently, the yield on the 6-month T-bills is around 20 basis points higher than the rates on 1-year T-bills.

From a return-on-investment perspective, investing in the shorter-term T-bills would allow you to maximise your returns as long as the short-term rates are higher than the long-term rates.

Investment Risk

There are different forms of risk when investing in any investment instrument, including T-bills. However, as the T-bills are backed by the Singapore government, which has the highest credit rating, we can assume there is little to no credit or default risk. Nevertheless, the T-bills are subject to interest rate risk and reinvestment risk like any other debt instrument.

Interest Rate Risk

Unlike the relatively benign interest rate environment over the last decade, we are experiencing more volatility as central banks around the world raise interest rates to stem the high inflation. As a result, long-term bonds, which are more sensitive to interest rate changes, may face interest rate risk due to the inverse relationship between interest rates and bond prices. This means that if interest rates were to rise higher, the prices of T-bills would fall, affecting investors who sell them before their maturity.

In this scenario, a shorter-term 6-month T-bill might be preferred as the interest rate risk is smaller due to the shorter maturity period. Nevertheless, this may not be a concern if you intend to hold the T-bills until maturity.

Reinvestment Risk

Similarly, the volatility in interest rates also subjects the investor to reinvestment risk, which is the risk of having to reinvest the proceeds at a lower interest rate than the previous investment. In a falling interest rate environment, a longer-duration 1-year T-bill can mitigate reinvestment risk compared to the shorter-term 6-month T-bill since it locks in the rate for a longer period. Conversely, a shorter-term 6-month T-bill allows you to reinvest at a higher interest rate in a rising interest environment compared to a longer-term T-bill, which locks you in at a lower rate.

The choice between these two T-bill durations depends on your outlook on interest rates in the near future. The shorter-term T-bill would enable you to reinvest your funds at higher yields if you assume that interest rates will rise as indicated by the Fed – which predicted at least two more rate hikes by the end of this year.

On the other hand, if you take the view of most economists who predict that interest rates have topped and may fall from here, then locking at the current rates on a longer-term T-bill would maximise your potential returns.

Read Also: How Much More Interest Will You Get If You Invest Your CPF Special Account In T-Bills Now?

Frequency Of Issuance

Lastly, the 6-month T-bill is issued more frequently, once every two weeks, compared to the 1-year T-bill, which is issued four times a year, once every quarter.

It may be beneficial for investors to build their positions in the T-bills over a few issuances instead of placing a lump sum investment on a single issuance due to the uncertainty over the interest rates for non-competitive bids and the allocation limit. For instance, in the previous BS23113V 6-Month T-bill issuance, non-competitive bid applicants were only allotted 96% of their application.

By spreading your investment over a few issuances, which is possible with the 6-month T-bill, you can minimise your exposure to an unfavourable interest rate if you were to make a non-competitive bid.

Upcoming 6-Month T-bills In 2023

Announcement Date Auction Date Issue Date Maturity Date Issue Code
27 Jul 2023 03 Aug 2023 08 Aug 2023 06 Feb 2024 BS23115E
10 Aug 2023 17 Aug 2023 22 Aug 2023 20 Feb 2024 BS23116F
24 Aug 2023 31 Aug 2023 05 Sep 2023 05 Mar 2024 BS23117Z
07 Sep 2023 14 Sep 2023 19 Sep 2023 19 Mar 2024 BS23118S
21 Sep 2023 28 Sep 2023 03 Oct 2023 02 Apr 2024 BS23119H
05 Oct 2023 12 Oct 2023 17 Oct 2023 16 Apr 2024 BS23120A
19 Oct 2023 26 Oct 2023 31 Oct 2023 30 Apr 2024 BS23121E
01 Nov 2023 08 Nov 2023 14 Nov 2023 14 May 2024 BS23122F
16 Nov 2023 23 Nov 2023 28 Nov 2023 28 May 2024 BS23123Z
30 Nov 2023 07 Dec 2023 12 Dec 2023 11 Jun 2024 BS23124S
13 Dec 2023 20 Dec 2023 26 Dec 2023 25 Jun 2024 BS23125H

Upcoming 1-Year T-bills In 2023

Announcement Date Auction Date Issue Date Maturity Date Issue Code
20 Jul 2023 27 Jul 2023 01 Aug 2023 30 Jul 2024 BY23102N
12 Oct 2023 19 Oct 2023 24 Oct 2023 22 Oct 2024 BY23103V


Read Also: Why Every Singaporean Should Apply To Invest Their OA Funds In T-Bill

Understanding Your Needs And Knowing The Alternative Options

It is common to assume that investing in a 1-year T-bill guarantees the same return as a 6-month T-bill but for a longer duration. However, as explained with the inverted yield curve, the 1-year T-bill may not offer a better or equivalent yield to the 6-month T-bill. Additionally, you need to consider your liquidity and investment goals before deciding to lock in the rates for a longer duration.

Alternatively, you can explore other investment options, such as the StashAway Simple Guarantee. It provides similar capital protection and interest returns as fixed deposits, which could be suitable as short-term investments. Otherwise, you could also consider money market funds for longer-term investments.

Read Also: Investing In Fixed Deposits: How StashAway Simple Guaranteed Locks In A Fixed Return As Markets Become More Volatile

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