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 Thursday’s close.
- According to the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey, U.S. businesses reported that economic conditions are weakening in general. The Philly Fed diffusion index increased from -3.5 in January to -2.8 in February and has now been at negative levels for the last six months.
- In terms of jobless claims, there are signs of a labor market recovery. Jobless claims fell this week to 262,000 from the 269,000 reported the week before.
- U.S. building permits fell in general in January. Single-family and mutlifamily housing starts dropped 3.9% and 3.7%, respectively. Bad weather was to blame for this phenomenon. However, homebuilders also stated that high costs in labor and the lack of lot and labor availability are also responsible for the housing market setback.
- The FTSEuro 300 Index reached its highest level in two weeks, up 5.3%. This was caused by the three-day rally on Wall Street, higher oil prices this week, and the good performance of European tech shares, which were up 1.6%. Nevertheless, the index has fallen 9.7% since the beginning of the year.
- The Peoples Bank of China reported creating $520 billion in debt in January, 50% more than it expected. Since October, China has added more than $1 trillion of debt. Analysts are already warning about a Chinese “debt bubble.” One of the reasons for this new debt acquisition is an attempt to fuel the economy, which has been slowing down over the last few years.
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Risk Appetite Review
- The overall market as measured by the S&P 500 ETF (SPY ) was up by 3.85% for the week.
- The High Beta ETF (SPHB ) was the best performer in the group with a 6.67% gain for the week.
- The Low Volatility ETF (SPLV ) was the worst performer in the group with a 2.90% gain for the week.
Major Index Review
- The iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund ETF (EFA ) was the best performer for the week with a 4.75% gain.
- The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF (EEM ) was the best performer for the rolling month with a 4.04% gain.
- The PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ETF (QQQ ) was the worst performer for the week with a 3.74% gain.
- The iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM ) was the worst performer for the rolling month with a loss of 1.11%.
- The three-day stock market rally ended after Wal-Mart reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit early on Thursday. The stock fell 4.4% and 8 out of the 10 S&P 500 sectors were down as well.
Foreign Equity Review
- All major foreign tracking ETFs were up for the week.
- The best performer for the week was the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index ETF (FXI ) with a 6.50% gain.
- The Russian ETF (RSX ) was the best performer for the rolling month with a 10.80% gain.
- The WisdomTree India Earnings Fund ETF (EPI ) was the worst performer for the week and the rolling month with a 1.91% gain and a 6.26% loss, respectively.
- Commodities had mixed results this week.
- The SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD ) was the best performer for the rolling month, up 13.67%.
- The United States Oil Fund LP ETF (USO ) was the best performer for the week with a 6.13% gain.
- The United States Natural Gas Fund, LP (UNG ) was the worst performer for the week and the rolling month with a 5.92% and a 13.98% loss, respectively.
- Brent crude rose 6% a barrel after Iranian officials met with Russian and Saudi Arabian representatives regarding an output freeze. Up until Wednesday, U.S. oil had increased 7.5% after the American Petroleum Institute reported a decrease of 3.3. million barrels in crude inventories. However, this gain was cut when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly inventory report on Thursday, showing that they had actually increased by 2.1 million this week. Brent Crude is now below $34, while WTI crude oil is below $30 per barrel.
- The Australian dollar (FXA ) was the best performer for the week with a gain of 1.06%.
- The Japanese yen (FXY ) was the best performer for the rolling month with a 4.01% gain.
- The euro (FXE ) was the worst performer for the week with a 1.29% loss. This is mainly due to Mario Draghi’s message on Monday. The president of the ECB suggested that the ECB might provide financial stimulus to banks in order to fight the eurozone’s financial turmoil.
- The U.S. dollar (UUP ) was the worst performer for the rolling month with a 2.48% loss.
- On Monday, Draghi suggested that the ECB might provide financial stimulus to banks to fight the eurozone’s financial turmoil. The euro fell 0.9% and started trading at 1.1148 against the dollar after Draghi delivered the message.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.