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ETF Scorecard: December 22 Edition

To help investors keep up with the markets, we present our ETF Scorecard. The Scorecard takes a step back and looks at how various asset classes across the globe are performing. The weekly performance is from last Friday’s open to this week’s Thursday close.

The final week before Christmas was, unsurprisingly, rather dull in events, with only Bank of Japan announcing its monetary policy decision. In a widely expected move, BoJ kept its monetary policy on hold, saying it anticipated the economy to continue its moderate expansion. Overnight interest rates remained at minus 0.1%, while the bond-yield target of Japanese government bonds stood still at zero percent. Eurozone’s final CPI figures failed to deliver a surprise, with inflation remaining at the same level of 1.5% in November year-over-year. Core CPI also stood at the same level of 0.9%, well-below Europe’s central bank target of 2%. U.S. housing starts were strong in November, extending the winning streak started in October. Starts advanced 3.3% in November, to an annualized figure of 1.29 million. U.S. existing home sales were also strong, rising 5.6% month-over-month and 3.8% year-over-year to 5.8 million in November. The figure is higher than consensus estimates of 5.5 million. Crude oil inventories registered an abrupt drop for the week ended December 15, falling by 6.5 million barrels. This is the fifth decline in a row. Gasoline stocks, meanwhile, marched higher during the same week to 1.2 million barrels. Final U.S. GDP for the third-quarter slightly disappointed. Real output growth stood at 3.2%, compared to 3.3% previously, with the growth driver being non-residential fixed investments, which spiked 4.7%. U.S. jobless claims rose to 245,000 for the week ended December 16, above consensus estimates of 232,000. Claims advanced 225,000 in the prior week.

Risk Appetite Review

Low volatility (SPLV A) was slammed this week, dropping 1%, as investors flocked to riskier assets. High Beta (SPHB B-), meanwhile, posted the best performance this week, advancing more than 2%. The broad market (SPY A) itself had a good week, rising 0.80% in the past five days.

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Major Index Review

The small-cap index (IWM B+) was on a tear this week, rising 1.60% largely thanks to the tax-cut plan passed by the U.S. Republicans. Emerging markets (EEM A-) posted the worst performance both for the week and the rolling month, dropping 0.11% and 3.19%, respectively, with China and Russia contributing the most to the poor monthly performance. The Dow Jones (DIA A-) was the clear winner for the rolling month, surging 5.31%. To see how these indices performed last week, check out ETF Scorecard: December 15 Edition.  

Sectors Review

The energy sector (XLE A) had a strong week, rising 3.68% in the past five days, as stabilizing oil prices boosted the stocks of U.S. producers. For the rolling month, however, the financial sector (XLF A) posted the best gains, up 6.67%, as the industry is expected to benefit handsomely from the tax cuts approved by U.S. Republicans. Utilities (XLU A) were beaten both for the week and the rolling month, as investors embraced riskier assets. (XLU A) is down 4.8% for the week and 6.1% for the rolling month.  

Foreign Equity Review

Brazil equities (EWZ B+) had the best week from the pack on news that Boeing is mulling to buy domestic plane-maker Embraer. (EWZ B+) is up 1.70% since last Thursday, representing the best performance. For the rolling month, India (EPI B+) is the best performer with an advance of 2.49%. Russia (RSX B+) is the worst performer both for the week and the rolling month, with a drop of 5.49% and 5.58%, respectively. To find out more about ETFs exposed to particular countries, check our ETF Country Exposure tool. Select a particular country from a world map and get a list of all ETFs tracking your pick.  

Commodities Review

Commodities had a good week, with the exception of natural gas. Copper (JJC A) was again the best weekly performer with an advance of 3.87%, buoyed by a tax-overhaul plan passed in the House by U.S. Republicans. Copper is used extensively in manufacturing and construction, and a tax cut for these industries is expected to increase demand for the metal. Oil (USO A) is the best performer for the rolling month, up more than 3%. Natural gas (UNG B-), meanwhile, is the worst performer both for the week and the rolling month, tumbling 3.75% and 17.76%, respectively. The fall was due to big production increases in the U.S. and warm weather expected across the southern part of the U.S. Use our Head-to-Head Comparison tool to compare two ETFs such as (USO A) and (UNG B-) on a variety of criteria such as performance, AUM, trading volume and expenses.  

Currency Review

The Japanese yen (FXY C+) was the worst performer this week, reflecting an increase in global risk appetite. The yen is also the worst performer for the rolling month. The Euro (FXE A) posted strong gains this week, surging 0.77%, although that performance did not help the currency much for the rolling month. The Australian dollar (FXA A-) is the king this month with gains of 1.58%.  

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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