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.
- This week was rather slow in economic events, but rich in nuclear threats.
- Investors have flown to safe-haven assets following heated rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Trump said the U.S. will respond with “fire and fury” to North Korean threats of launching a missile attack on Guam.
- The U.S. job market continues to be strong, raising the prospect of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve. In July, the U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs compared to the previous month, beating consensus estimates of 181,000. The figures for the prior month were revised up by 9,000 to 231,000. As a result, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.3%.
- Average hourly earnings were not as upbeat, however. An important indicator for future inflation, hourly earnings rose 0.3% in July month-over-month and are up 2.5% compared to the same period last year.
- Chinese CPI rose 1.4% in July compared to the same period last year, lower than consensus estimates of 1.5% and considerably below the central bank’s target of 3%.
- Crude oil inventories continue to drop. For the week ended August 4, stockpiles fell by 6.5 million barrels, the sixth fall in a row. Analysts had predicted a decline of 2.6 million.
- U.K. manufacturing production stood still in June, posting zero growth month-over-month.
- Unemployment claims in the U.S. came in at 244,000 in the August 5 week, in what was another strong jobs report.
- U.S. Producer Price Index fell 0.1% in July, but remains up 1.9% compared to the same period last year. Analysts had forecasted an increase of 0.1%.
Risk Appetite Review
- Unsurprisingly, risky assets (SPHB ) performed the worst this week as investors fear an escalation of rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea could lead to a military conflict. (SPHB ) declined by almost 3% during the week.
- In this fear-driven environment, low volatility (SPLV ) was the strongest performer, although it still fell 0.73%.
- The overall broad market (SPY ) also posted a drop of 1.52%.
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Major Index Review
- Global equities have all declined as investors flew to safe-haven assets in light of a potential conflict between the U.S. and North Korea.
- iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM ) tumbled the most this week, down 2.60%, as the index’s performance is largely tied to the success of Trump’s agenda. The U.S. president so far has failed to repeal Obamacare and it remains unclear whether he will be able to overhaul the tax code. (IWM ) is also the only faller for the rolling month, down 2.51%.
- Dow Jones (DIA ) was the best performer of the week, with a drop of slightly below 1%. (DIA ) is sometimes viewed as a relatively safe haven given that it contains blue-chip companies. In addition, many of (DIA )’s components have exposure to the global economy, which is in good shape.
- For the rolling month, emerging markets (EEM ) is again the king, rising 2.59%.
- To see how these indices performed last week, check out ETF Scorecard: August 4 Edition.
- Utilities (XLU ) again were the best performers from the pack, being the only asset posting gains, up 0.60% for the week. Utility stocks are in great demand in times of stress because they are non-cyclical. (XLU ) is also the best monthly performer with a gain of 4.91%.
- The telecom sector (XTL ) was the worst performer both for the week and rolling month, down 3.50% and 2.16%, respectively. The telecom sector’s earnings for the second quarter were mixed.
Foreign Equity Review
- Russia (RSX ) was surprisingly the best performer this week, dropping just 0.15%, as investor focus shifted to the U.S. war of words with North Korea.
- India (EPI ) tumbled the most this week with a drop of 5.30% on negative global sentiment.
- For the rolling month, Brazil (EWZ ) posted the best gains, as political tensions eased, with President Michel Temer potentially avoiding prosecution. (EWZ ) was up 8.29%.
- Finally, Germany (EWG ) is the worst monthly performer and the only faller, with a drop of 0.79%.
- 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 were mixed, with gold and silver in high demand.
- The best weekly performer, however, is natural gas (UNG ), which shot up 6.70% in the past five days. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday that natural gas supplies jumped only 28 billion cubic feet in the August 4 week, less than the 37 billion cubic feet expected by analysts.
- Copper (JJC ) skyrocketed 10.36% in the past month, easily beating its commodity counterparts.
- The Agriculture Index (DBA ) is the worst performer both for the week and the rolling month, losing 3.44% and 4.60%, respectively.
- To no one’s surprise, the Japanese yen (FXY ) reported the best gains this week, amid rising tensions between North Korea and the U.S. (FXY ) was up 1.33% this week and is also the best monthly performer, with an increase of 4.67%.
- Emerging markets (CEW ) and the British pound (FXB ) share last place in terms of performance, both down 0.77% for the week.
- The U.S. dollar (UUP ), however, remains the single faller for the rolling month with a decline of 2.69%.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.