ETF Performance Report: March & Q1

ETF Trends

Concern over a global market slowdown and geopolitical risks kept equities markets and stock exchange traded funds relatively unchanged since the start of the year, but the S&P 500 Index is still heading toward its fifth quarterly gain, albeit a small one.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1.0% over the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.5% and the S&P 500 rose 0.5%.

The top performers over Q1 include exchange traded notes: the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Coffee Total Return Sub-Index (JO) up 65.0%,  iPath Pure Beta Coffee ETN (CAFE) up 59.4% and PowerShares DB Agriculture Long ETN (AGF) up 38.8%.

Despite a correction in March, coffee remains the best performing asset so far this year as drought conditions in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee bean producer, decimated crops. [After Pullback, Coffee ETNs Look to Rebound]

Broader agriculture exchange traded products have also been outperforming this year. Dry weather and drought conditions have weighed on a basket of soft commodities. [A Commodity ETF to Diversify Your Investment Portfolio]

At the bottom of the pack, the worst performing non-leveraged funds so far this year include Russia country-specific ETFs: Market Vectors Russia Small-Cap ETF (RSXJ) down 27.9%, Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX) down 20.7% and SPDR S&P Russia ETF (RBL) down 20.3%. [From Russia With No Love: Russia ETFs Tumble Following Ukraine Invasion]

Over the past month, the Dow was up 0.1%, the Nasdaq declined 3.5% and the S&P 500 was 0.9% higher.

March started off in risk-off mode after Russian forces moved into Crimea. However, the knee-jerk sell-off was short lived as Putin’s comments on protecting Crimea’s Russian speaking population eased market concerns.

As geopolitical risks ebbed, investors focused on economic data, which pointed to a slowing economy due to the harsh winter conditions. Nevertheless, the markets remained in sideways trading through the rest of March as mixed economic news kept stocks in range.

Top performing non-leveraged ETFs over the past month include PowerShares DB Agriculture Long ETN (AGF) up 45.5%, PowerShares DB Commodity Long ETN (DPU) up 26.6% and EGShares India Infrastructure Index Fund (INXX) up 19.2%.

The worst performing non-leveraged ETFs for the month include the iPath Global Carbon ETN (GRN) down 32.3%, SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI) down 18.8% and  Market Vectors Biotech (BBH) down 15.9%. [Overlooked Bearish Biotech ETF Grows Up…Sort Of]

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