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ETF Scorecard: February 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.

With Monday a bank holiday in the U.S., the trading week was short and light on economic data. Perhaps the main event this week, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) minutes showed policymakers were confident that inflation expectations would eventually rise to normal levels, but said it was too early to signal a policy normalization stance. The ECB minutes revealed that a change in approach could still come early this year, with governing council members worried about a strong euro and its impact on inflation. The U.S. Federal Reserve also published minutes for its last meeting, revealing that policymakers are increasingly confident in the economic recovery and the pace of job growth. However, the Fed is still worried that inflation will not hit its target. The news triggered a wave of dollar buying and led to higher Treasury yields. In the U.S., housing starts continued to trend upward, rising to 1.33 million in January from 1.19 million in the prior month. Building permits also surprised to the upside, surging to 1.39 million in January from 1.3 million previously. Germany’s ZEW economic sentiment rose to 17.8 in February, marking a decline from 20.4 in the prior period, although it beat analysts’ expectations of 16. A showing above zero indicates business optimism. European flash manufacturing PMI declined to 58.5 in February from 59.6 in the previous month, while services PMI was also on a downtrend, falling to 56.7 from 58. Both figures underwhelmed analysts’ expectations. Britain’s unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in December, marking the first advance since the Brexit vote. Pundits forecast the unemployment rate to remain flat at 4.3%. In another blow for Britain this week, a second GDP estimate revealed that output grew by 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to 0.5% estimated initially. Jobless claims continue to remain near historic lows, at 222,000 this week. The figure was above expectations of 230,000. Crude oil inventories dropped for the first time in three weeks, down 1.6 million barrels for the week ended February 16. In the previous week, stockpiles rose by 1.8 million barrels.

Risk Appetite Review

Markets returned to normal this week, registering small drops. Low Volatility (SPLV A) was the worst performer for the week, down 1.17%. High Beta (SPHB B-) was again the best performer with a small decline of just 0.16%. The broad market (SPY A) declined 0.71%, after a significant rise in the past week. Sign up for ETFdb.com Pro and get access to real-time ratings on over 1,900 U.S.-listed ETFs.  

Major Index Review

Global equities all posted small declines this week. Technology stocks (QQQ A-) recorded the best performance, falling only 0.23%. Unsurprisingly, (QQQ A-) is also the best performer for the rolling month, down only 2.3%. Tech stocks typically outperform the broad market over long periods of time, but they may decline more abruptly in market routs. Emerging markets (EEM A-) were the weakest this week, shrinking by 1%. The drop trimmed some gains from the previous week, when it shot up more than 7%. For the rolling month, European stocks (EFA A) were the worst performers with a fall of 5.12%, largely due to a strong euro and slightly worsening fundamentals. To see how these indices performed a week before last, check out ETF Scorecard: February 16 Edition.  

Sectors Review

All sectors were slightly down this week. Materials (XLB A) posted the smallest losses, falling just 0.03%. The telecom sector (XTL A) resumed its decline, tumbling as much as 4.25%, largely due to poor results announced by many companies in the industry, including Cincinnati Bell (CBB) and CenturyLink (CTL). For the rolling month, utilities (XLU A) posted the best performance, declining by just 2.35%. The energy sector (XLE A), meanwhile, tumbled 13.87% for the rolling month, with natural gas among the worst performers.  

Foreign Equity Review

Foreign equities posted mixed results. Russia (RSX B+) was the best performer this week, surging nearly 3%, thanks to high oil prices. India’s stock market (EPI B+) fell 1.21%, representing the worst weekly performance. Bets that the Indian stock market will drop increased after the nation’s government presented a disappointing federal budget and rising concerns about a $2 billion bank fraud. For the rolling month, Brazil (EWZ B+) is the clear winner with a blockbuster rise of 5.64%, helped by rising oil prices and hopes the fiscal reform will move on despite an ongoing graft probe into President Michel Temer. 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 rather mixed. Oil (USO A) was the best performer for the week, posting solid gains of 2.61% as crude stockpiles resumed their decline. Gold (GLD A-) fell 1.56% for the week, representing the weakest performance from the pack, as its safe-haven appeal dwindled following the market recovery. For the rolling month, copper (JJC A) is the best performer, advancing 3.34%, on the back of large gains posted in the previous week. Natural gas (UNG B-) is the worst performer from the pack for the rolling month, slumping nearly 13.6%. Use our Head-to-Head Comparison tool to compare two ETFs such as (UNG B-) and (GLD A-) on a variety of criteria such as performance, AUM, trading volume and expenses.  

Currency Review

The U.S. dollar (UUP A) has finally reversed some losses and edged up 0.86% for the week. The greenback was helped by a signal from the Federal Reserve that it is confident in the economy. The Euro (FXE A), meanwhile, is the worst weekly performer, posting a drop of 0.90%. The Japanese yen (FXY C+) remains the best performer for the rolling month, up a solid 3.51%, thanks to gains registered during the recent market rout. The Australian dollar (FXA A-) fell the most for the rolling month, down 1.69%.  

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