Performance Update

Core Plus Bond Fund (WIPIX)

Janet Rilling, Senior Portfolio Manager and Head of the Plus Fixed Income team, discusses key markets events, drivers of the fund’s Q1 2024 performance, and changes to the strategy’s positioning.

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Janet Rilling: Welcome to the first quarter 2024 Allspring Core Plus Bond Fund recap. Returns in the bond market for the quarter were driven largely by risk assets. The combination of higher all-in yields and a continuation of the risk rally, which started in the fourth quarter of last year, prompted investors to continue buying credit. The strong demand for investment-grade and high yield credit caused credit spreads, which is the compensation investors earn for bearing credit risk, to narrow throughout the quarter to end at their tightest level in more than two years. Meanwhile, U.S. Treasuries, which saw very strong returns in late 2023, saw negative returns during the quarter. In March, U.S. Federal Reserve officials reiterated that they believe they had reached the peak in rates for the cycle and that the next change for rates would be a cut. However, they also reiterated that they are remaining patient and staying focused on economic data to confirm that inflation is confidently moving back towards target. Stronger than expected growth and employment data, along with higher-than-expected inflation data, supported the Fed's (Federal Reserve) approach of keeping rates higher for longer. All of this led rates to rise across the curve, as many of the rate cuts investors had priced into the market for 2024 were pushed off into the future. The Allspring Core Plus Bond Fund, as measured by the institutional share class, outperformed its benchmark, the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, by 48 basis points (100 basis points = 1.00%) during the first quarter ended, March 31, 2024. The fund reduced its duration exposure to be neutral to the benchmark early in the quarter. Our multiple lever approach added value in the first quarter since our neutral rate posture was complemented by a diversified set of allocations to credit sectors, both within and beyond the benchmark. In the core part of the portfolio, our holdings within the securitized sectors, such as an allocation to ABS, or asset-backed securities, and CMBS, which stands for commercial mortgage-backed securities, contributed to performance. The fund also benefited from its plus exposures, such as U.S. high yield and leveraged loans, as well as exposure to European high yield bonds and emerging market debt. Thank you for your time and please reach out to your Allspring Global Investments contact if you have additional questions or would like to discuss the Allspring Core Plus Bond Fund in greater detail.