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.
Monday was a holiday in the U.S. with markets closed in observance of Martin Luther King Day. Yet that does not mean the week was slow in events. The annual meeting of the world’s top political and business leaders kicked off in Davos on January 22. U.S. President Donald Trump is not attending the World Economic Forum as he deals with a partial government shutdown at home. UK Prime Minister Theresa May is also absent due to ongoing drama surrounding Brexit, while the French President is skipping the gathering as he mulls a response to the ‘yellow vest’ protests. Among the leaders that attended, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a quick return to normal monetary policy, while the Chinese Vice President, Wang Qishan, issued a veiled rebuke to populists across the globe, saying globalization is an inevitable trend of history. U.S. consumer sentiment dropped alarmingly in January, from a revised 98.3 to 90.7. Analysts had predicted a decline to 97. The Bank of Japan slashed its inflation forecasts and maintained its massive monetary stimulus. Governor Haruhiko Kuroda warned that there are growing risks to the Japanese economy stemming from protectionism and declining demand. UK retail sales fell 0.9% in December compared to the prior month, largely in line with expectations. Retail sales grew by 2.7% in December year-over-year, a slowdown compared with 2016, when they rose 4.7%. China’s GDP increased by 6.4% in the last quarter of 2018, slowing down from 6.5% in the prior three-month period. The output growth was in line with expectations. Wages are on the rise in Britain, with the average earnings index jumping 3.4% in November, reaching a nine-year high. UK’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, declined to 4% from 4.1%.
Risk Appetite Review
Markets posted a broad rally this week. Risk assets (SPHB B-) were the best performers for the week, gaining 2.48%, a sign that investor optimism has been growing since the December selloff. The broad market (SPY A), meanwhile, was again the worst performer, moving up by just 1.36%.
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Major Index Review
Major indexes were all up. Emerging markets (EEM A-) recorded the strongest advance for the week, growing by nearly 2%. Yet they remain among the worst performers for the rolling month. Europe and Australasia (EFA A) were the worst performers for the week and the rolling month, up nearly 1% and 7.37%, respectively. An economic slowdown in the Eurozone coupled with worries about the Chinese economy weighed on sentiment. Small-cap stocks (IWM B+) surged 15.2% for the rolling month, the best performance.
To see how these indices performed over the past year, check out ETF Scorecard: January 18 Edition.
All sectors were up. Industrials (XLI A) were by far the best performers for the week, advancing 2.59%. At the same time, the telecom sector (XTL A) gained just 0.75%, the weakest performance. The financial sector (XLF A) was the best performer for the rolling month, surging as much as 15%.
Foreign Equity Review
Brazilian stocks are continuing their impressive ride, beating their foreign equity peers on both periods. Optimism about newly-installed President Jair Bolsonaro pushed up (EWZ B+) 3.24% for the week and nearly 20% for the rolling month. India (EPI B+), meanwhile, is the biggest loser, posting slight positive performance both for the week and the rolling month.
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Commodities were rather mixed, with a majority of them losing ground. Oil (USO A) advanced 2.67% this week, extending monthly gains to more than 20%, despite a reported buildup in U.S. reserves. Crude stockpiles rose by 8 million in the week ended January 18, breaking a six-week streak of declines. Meanwhile, natural gas (UNG B-) was the worst performer for the week and the rolling month, declining 8% and 3.61%, respectively, despite a colder than normal winter in many parts of the U.S.
The Euro (FXE A) lost 2.54% this week, taking monthly performance into negative territory. The European shared currency is the only loser for the rolling month, down 0.69%. The British pound (FXB A-), meanwhile, is the best performer both for the week and the rolling month, up 1% and 3%, respectively. Investors are optimistic that Britain will most likely not head out of the European Union without an agreement.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.