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.
U.S. Republicans have unveiled their plan for tax reform, promising generous tax cuts for corporations and upper-middle class families. Questions still remain as to how the government plans to deliver on its promises without dramatically increasing the budget deficit. The German election was the most important event this week, although it was quite clear from the beginning that Angela Merkel’s CDU party would win the vote. Merkel indeed secured her fourth term as Chancellor, but the results gave mainstream politicians food for thought. Populist party AfD, which is right-wing and Eurosceptic, came in third with more than 12% of the votes. Merkel’s conservatives got around 33% and Social Democrats received 20% of total votes, both in decline. Social Democrats said they will return in opposition, forcing CDU to negotiate the formation of a majority coalition with the Greens and the pro-business FDP. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has indicated that the central bank will continue to raise interest rates, despite seemingly low inflation. Yellen noted that the jobs market was strong and would eventually lead to wage growth and inflation. She admitted, however, the Fed may be slower in pushing interest rates higher. European manufacturing sentiment resumed its march upward, with PMI coming in at 58.2 in September, a noteworthy advance compared to last month’s 57.4. European PMI Services also surprised to the upside, rising to 55.6 from 54.7 in the previous month. U.S. consumer confidence dwindled in September, largely due to the negative effects from the hurricane states Texas and Florida. The level of confidence dropped to 119.8 from a downwardly revised 120.4 last month. Analysts had on average expected a reading of 120.2. New home sales in the U.S. also suffered because of weakness in the southern states. New sales declined from 571,000 to 560,000 in August, with the hurricane-torn regions of Texas and Florida falling the most. Durable goods orders painted a bright picture of the American consumer, rising 1.7% in August compared to last month and 5.1% year-over-year. Core orders, excluding volatile transportation items, rose 0.2% month-over-month and 6.1% year-over-year. Crude oil inventories fell for the first time in three weeks – by 1.8 million barrels in the September 22 week. In the previous five-day period, stockpiles advanced 4.6 million barrels. U.S. GDP for the second quarter was slightly revised up to 3.1% from 3% previously, in another testament of the strength of the U.S. economy. U.S. initial jobless claims stood at 272,000 for the week ended September 23, up around 12,000 from the previous week.
Risk Appetite Review
Risky assets (SPHB B-) rallied the most this week, as U.S. Republicans unveiled their plan for corporate tax cuts. (SPHB B-) soared 5.71%. Low volatility (SPLV A) was again the worst performer with a tepid rise of just 0.15%, in what was a widening gap between the performance of risky and low volatility assets. With a gain of 0.98%, the broad market (SPY A) had a good week as well on optimism that Trump’s tax cuts will help corporate bottom lines. Sign up for ETFdb.com Pro and get access to real-time ratings on over 1,900 U.S.-listed ETFs.
Major Index Review
With some small exceptions, global equities were all up. The small-cap index Russell 2000 (IWM B+) is the main beneficiary this week from the proposed tax cuts, rising 2.90%. Many of the index’s companies operate mostly in the U.S. and the tax cuts will extend to a greater portion of their profits than larger, more global businesses. Russell 2000 (IWM B+) is also the best performer for the rolling month with an impressive rally of 8.31%. Emerging markets (EEM A-) have dropped 2.40% this week, largely due to a stronger dollar and the Federal Reserve’s indication it will continue to raise interest rates. (EEM A-) posted the worst gains for the rolling month as well, slightly declining 0.07%. To see how these indices performed last week, check out ETF Scorecard: September 22 Edition.
The energy sector (XLE A) is the best weekly performer, with an advance of 2.53%, followed by the financial sector, which was helped by Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s comments that interest rate will continue to rise. (XLE A) is up 9.72% for the rolling month, representing the best performance. After a string of positive weeks, utilities (XLU A) posted the worst performance both for the week and the rolling month, down 1.36% and 4.05%, respectively. Demand for utility stocks dwindled, as asset managers moved funds to riskier assets after the U.S. government unveiled a plan to cut taxes.
Foreign Equity Review
Foreign stocks were mostly down this week. Russia (RSX B+) was the best performer this week, gaining merely 0.82%. Russian equities are by far the best monthly performers with a rise of 7.45%. Volatility in Brazil increased this week, with (EWZ B+) dropping 4.07%, in a horrible week for most emerging market countries. (EWZ B+)’s underperformance was chiefly due to a strong dollar and changed investor expectations about the path of future rate hikes in the U.S. India (EPI B+) was the worst performer for the rolling month, registering a drop of 4.12%. 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 posted mixed performances. Oil (USO A) was the best performer for the week and the rolling month, gaining 2.25% and 10%, respectively. The rally was sparked by Turkey’s President Erdogan, who threatened to cut Iraqi oil supplies after the nation’s Kurds voted for independence in a referendum. Agriculture (DBA A) resumed its downward trajectory after a relatively strong last week, falling 1.31%. Copper (JJC A) is the clear loser for the rolling month, with a decline of 4.62%. Use our Head-to-Head Comparison tool to compare two ETFs such as (USO A) and (JJC A) on a variety of criteria such as performance, AUM, trading volume and expenses.
Currencies were all down, except the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar (UUP A) had a great week, benefiting from two events: the Fed’s signal that it will continue to raise rates despite low inflation and the unveiling of government’s tax reform plan. (UUP A) is the single gainer this week, rising 1.26%. The Euro (FXE A) has finally ended a winning streak, posting the worst losses this week, down 1.54%. The Japanese yen (FXY C+) has lost 3.57% of its value over the past month, as the Bank of Japan continues its ultra-loose monetary policy. For the rolling month, the British Pound (FXB A-) remains the biggest gainer, up 3.71%, thanks to Bank of England’s signal that it will raise rates
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.