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.
- As widely expected, Italy’s constitutional referendum has been defeated by a large margin, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his resignation. Now, investors should either expect snap elections or a new government, depending on whether the main political parties find common ground. To find out how the referendum affected the financial markets, read Italy Votes ‘No’: Analyzing the Referendum and Trending: Italy’s Failed Referendum Could Throw Europe Into the Abyss.
- The Federal Reserve is expected to have its last meeting of the year next week. It is broadly anticipated that the Fed will hike interest rates, with the markets believing there is a 100% probability of such an outcome.
- Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank already had its last meeting of 2016. The central bank sent mixed signals about its monetary policy, reducing its bond-buying program from €80 billion to €60 billion, but fiercely denying this was tapering. ECB President Mario Draghi also said the QE is essentially open-ended in nature, although it was officially extended by one year until December 2017.
- The U.S. economy added 178,000 new jobs in November, slightly beating consensus of 170,000. However, the October figure was revised down to 142,000 from 161,000. The unemployment rate dropped like a stone to 4.6% from 4.9%, while average hourly earnings fell 0.1%.
- ISM non-manufacturing index in the U.S. rose to 57.2 in November from 55.5 in the prior month.
- The U.S. trade balance deteriorated in November compared to the previous month, but the overall trend points to a slight improvement. The trade deficit, which is the difference between exported and imported goods, came in at $42.6 billion, slightly below expectations of $42 billion.
- In Britain, manufacturing production dropped by 0.9% in October. Analysts had expected a 0.2% increase.
- U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 2.4 million barrels in the past week.
- There were about 5.5 million job openings in the U.S. in October compared to 5.6 in the previous month.
- Chinese trade surplus narrowed to 298 billion yuan in November from 325 billion last month. Analysts had expected a trade surplus of 307 billion yuan.
Risk Appetite Review
- After a small pause last week, the broad market (SPY ) has risen as much as 2.49% in the past five days on improving economic data across the board and unwavering optimism about a Trump presidency.
- High Beta (SPHB ) was the best performer of the pack, rising 4.69%.
- Low Volatility (SPLV ) was the worst performer, advancing just 1.70%.
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Major Index Review
- Markets were all consistently up for the week.
- iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM ) is having a rarely seen bull run, jumping 5.42% in the last week alone. For the rolling month, the small-cap index is up 16.69%, the incontestable leader of the pack. The reason for this performance is the unwavering optimism stemming from President-elect Trump’s promise to adopt policies favoring small-cap U.S. firms.
- Dow Jones (DIA ) was the worst performer this week after leading the bunch last week. The index has jumped 2.28% since last Thursday.
- Emerging markets (EEM ) was the only loser for the rolling month, falling 1.89%, hurt by negative Trump rhetoric.
Foreign Equity Review
- Foreign markets were all up for the week.
- Russia (RSX ) is again the best performer of the week and the clear leader for the rolling month, in no small part because of Trump’s stated intentions to improve relations with Russia. Economic sanctions could be relieved as a result and possibly boost the Russian output. The OPEC deal to cut oil production and the ensuing rally in oil prices also had a positive effect on the Russian stock market. (RSX ) is up 6.35% this week and 14.79% for the rolling month.
- The worst performer is China, with the (FXI ) index jumping just 1.21%, as investors’ eyes turned to a potential diplomatic conflict between the country and the U.S. after Trump had a formal call with Taiwan’s leadership.
- For the rolling month, Brazil (EWZ ) has lost 10.49%, representing the worst performance, on fears of a new political scandal potentially leading to a delay of market-oriented reforms. To find out more about ETFs exposed to individual countries, use our ETF Country Exposure Tool. Select a particular country from the world map and get a list of all ETFs tracking your pick.
- Commodities were mixed for the week.
- Natural gas (UNG ) is leading the commodities pack for the second week in a row, with a 6.84% advance. The commodity was boosted by lower inventories, with the U.S. Energy Information reporting the stockpiles fell by 42 billion cubic feet during the week ending December 2. For the rolling month, (UNG ) is up a staggering 29.6%. (UNG ) has benefited from expectations of cold weather in the U.S. over the next two weeks.
- Surprisingly, (USO ) is the worst performer of the week, down 0.79%, largely because both OPEC and Russia reported record-high production. Investors started to become skeptical whether the cartel will be able to enforce a deal to cut as much as 1.2 billion barrels per day.
- Gold (GLD ) is the worst performer for the rolling month, down 8.64% on expectations of higher interest rates in the U.S. Use our Head-to-Head Comparison Tool to compare two commodity ETFs, such as (USO ) and (GLD ), on a variety of criteria such as performance, AUM, trading volume and expenses.
- The best performing currencies this week are emerging markets, up 1%, recovering some of the lost ground following the election of Trump in the U.S.
- The dollar (UUP ) has again posted the best performance for the rolling month, advancing 3.4%, as the Federal Reserve prepares to hike interest rates next week. According to data from CME Group, 30-day Fed Fund futures prices suggest that markets are 100% confident the Fed will pull the trigger at its December 14 meeting. There is a 97% probability that the Federal Reserve will hike the interest rate by 50-75 basis points.
- The British pound (FXB ) is the worst performer this week, falling 0.52%.
- The Japanese yen (FXY ) lost more than any other currency this month, falling by 8.06%.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.