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ETF Scorecard: December 23 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.

Markets have been relatively quiet over the past week, as investors prepare for winter holidays. Housing starts in the U.S. stood at 1.09 million in November, marking a significant decrease from a revised 1.34 million in the previous month. An Ifo index measuring the German business climate edged up to 111 in December from 110.4 in the previous month. Japan’s central bank has left monetary policy unchanged at its final meeting of the year, with the key rate staying at -0.1%. The Bank of Japan had an upbeat tone about the economy, saying it saw marked improvements in industrial production, exports and investment. In the U.S., crude oil stockpiles increased 2.3 million barrels for the week, after four straight weeks of declines. Existing home sales in the U.S. edged up to 5.61 million in November compared to a rise of 5.57 million previously. U.S. durable goods orders dropped 4.6% in November from a rise of 4.8% in the previous month. Analysts had expected orders to fall only 4%. The U.S. GDP increased by 3.5% in the third quarter, beating estimates of 3.3%. Unemployment claims in the U.S. stood at 275,000 for the week ending December 17, up from 254,000 in the prior week.

Risk Appetite Review

The (SPY A) retracted from record highs this week, falling 0.28%. High Beta (SPHB B-) was again the worst performer, dropping 0.80%. Low Volatility (SPLV A) has again beaten its peers, rising 0.75%. To see how these indices performed last week, check out ETF Scorecard: December 16 Edition.

Major Index Review

Markets were all slightly down this week, with one exception. Dow Jones (DIA A-) has been the single riser from the pack, advancing a meager 0.14%. The index was very close to reaching the 20,000 mark, but fell short by 15 points on Tuesday. Dow Jones is also the best performer for the rolling month, up 4.77%. Emerging markets (EEM A-) have posted the worst performance both for the week and the rolling month, dropping 3.26% and 3.84%, respectively. The poor performance could be largely attributed to outflows triggered by higher interest rates in the U.S. and a stronger dollar. Uncertainty about the U.S.’s trade relationship with China has also weighed negatively. Use our Head-to-Head Comparison tool to compare two ETFs such as (DIA A-) and (EEM A-) on a variety of criteria such as performance, AUM, trading volume and expenses.

Foreign Equity Review

Foreign markets were all down for the week, with the exception of Germany. Indeed, Germany (EWG B+) has been the single riser from the pack, advancing 0.73%, despite the terrorist attack in Berlin. The index was helped by gains lodged by automobile producers, which soared after a report indicated demand for cars remained strong in Europe. Germany is the second best performer for the rolling month, with a 4.7% advance. China (FXI A-) has been the worst performer this week, falling 4.73% on uncertainty about its relationship with the U.S. The situation got even more tense after President-elect Donald Trump appointed Peter Navarro – a hardliner against China – as economic adviser. For the rolling month, Russia (RSX B+) posted the best performance, rising 6.96%, as investors cheered Trump’s positive rhetoric toward the country. (RSX B+) was down 3.15% this week, negatively impacted by rising tensions in the Middle East and the fatal shooting of the Russian ambassador in Turkey. Brazil (EWZ B+) was the worst performer for the rolling month, falling 8.74%, hurt by a stronger dollar and an unfavorable political climate at home. 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 were mixed for the week. Natural gas (UNG B-) has again beaten its peers, soaring 5.09% since last Thursday. (UNG B-) is also the best performer for the month, with a 13.85% advance. The highly volatile commodity was boosted by dropping U.S. inventories, with current stockpiles 5.9% below last year’s level. Copper (JJC A) has fallen 3.13% in the past week, largely on the back of rising supply and falling demand in China. Gold (GLD A-) remains the worst performer for the rolling month, down 7.03%, hurt by rising interest rates and a risk-on investor attitude.

Currency Review

The Japanese yen rose 0.55% this week, boosted by its safe-haven appeal in the aftermath of the Berlin attacks. The Bank of Japan’s positive comments on the economy also improved sentiment. The yen remains the worst performer for the rolling month, down 5.68%. The Australian dollar (FXA A-) has lost 1.42% of its value, as a drop in iron ore prices weighed negatively on the currency. The U.S. dollar remains the best performing currency for the rolling month, rising 2.07%, as the Federal Reserve signaled its intention to raise interest rates three times next year, instead of twice.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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