Bondholders speculate;shareholders accumulate

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The past year has given corporate bond investors a lot to be happy about. At the end of January, global speculative-grade default rates were at a meager 1.7%, down from 1.82% the previous month, according to Standard & Poor’s. (The record low was posted in 1997 at a slim 1.3%.) Companies had put in the time to clean up their balance sheets and term out their short-term obligations.

Yield margins have since reflected this progress in spades: median speculative-grade spreads in the middle of

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