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.
- Another country did not pass the populism test. Last week, Turkey marginally voted in favor of giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers by transforming the country into a presidential republic. About 51.4% of the citizens who participated in the referendum voted for constitutional changes that will allow Erdogan to concentrate more power in his hands and potentially serve until 2029. U.S. President Donald Trump rushed to congratulate Erdogan on his victory, while European countries raised concerns about irregularities in the conduct of the vote.
- France will hold presidential elections this Sunday. Latest polls show that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and independent runner Emmanuel Macron will head into the second round, although many French people are still undecided. Macron is expected to win the second round, but just like Brexit and the Trump election, an upset is not a far-fetched possibility. Le Pen is campaigning on an anti-immigration, anti-Europe platform. Macron said he will cut red tape to boost hiring and continue France’s commitment to the European Union. A terrorist attack in Paris late Thursday is likely to give a boost to Le Pen. She signaled her willingness to implement a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.
- Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May unexpectedly called for snap elections on June 8. Leading consistently in polls, May hopes to win a larger majority in Parliament, which will give her a free hand to implement her so-called hard Brexit agenda. Currently, May is being blocked by opposition parties in doing so. She signaled she will prioritize control of immigration over trade in upcoming negotiations with the EU.
- U.S. CPI dropped 0.3% in March month-over-month, disappointing analysts, who had expected a showing of zero growth. Year-over-year, CPI is still running above the Federal Reserve’s target and is at 2.4%. Pundits had predicted the CPI would rise to 2.6% in March compared to last year. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, dropped by 0.1% in March compared to April, but rose by 2% compared to the same month a year ago.
- U.S. retail sales also disappointed, falling 0.2% in March compared to the previous month.
- Housing starts showed signs of worry, falling 6.8% in March to 1.21 million.
- Industrial production was a bright point in a batch of poor economic data lately, rising 0.5% in March and trumping estimates of 0.4% growth.
- U.S. crude oil stockpiles continued their downward slide, falling approximately 0.84 million barrels for the week ended April 14. This is the second-consecutive weekly drop.
- U.S. unemployment claims came in at 244,000, slightly higher than the 242,000 expected by forecasters.
- Chinese GDP rose 6.9% in the first quarter of 2017, slightly above the estimates. Meanwhile, industrial production grew by 7.6% in March, crushing estimates of 6.2%.
Risk Appetite Review
- The Broad Market (SPY ) rose 0.96% this week, as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin signaled the Trump administration will disclose a tax-reform plan soon. Upbeat corporate earnings from companies such as American Express and Goldman Sachs have also helped.
- Equal Weight (RSP ) has increased 1.08%, beating all other indexes in the pack.
- Low Volatility (SPLV ) was the poorest performer, increasing merely by 0.79%.
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Major Index Review
- Global equities were in rally mode this week.
- iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM ) was the best performer this week, perhaps because of Mnuchin’s indication that the administration was close to a “major tax reform.” Tax cuts are expected to benefit smaller business over bigger ones as many operate predominantly in the U.S.
- For the rolling month, there was only one gainer: the Technology Index PowerShares (QQQ ), which advanced 0.21%.
- Emerging markets (EEM ) was the only faller this week, sliding 0.08%. It is also the worst performer for the rolling month, down 2.14%. The asset class was shunned by investors due to fears of frothiness, particularly in the face of risks stemming from rising interest rates in the U.S. and the potential adoption of protectionist policies.
- To see how these indices performed last week, check out ETF Scorecard: April 14 Edition.
Foreign Equity Review
- Foreign equities were mostly down this week.
- Germany (EWG ) and Japan (EWJ ) were the best performers, both rising slightly, 0.35% and 0.39%, respectively.
- For the rolling month, however, India (EPI ) was the only riser, advancing 2.65%, as equities held onto their gains on the back of optimism that Narendra Modi’s government will implement market-friendly reforms.
- Brazil (EWZ ) was the worst performer, losing 1.17% of its value on the launch of new corruption probes against high-level officials last week.
- Russia (RSX ) lost the most for the rolling month. (RSX ) fell 4.47%, but its negative performance was close to Brazil and China (FXI ).
- 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 all down for the week.
- Natural Gas (UNG ) was flat, but that was enough to make it the best-performing commodity.
- Gold (GLD ) has posted the best gains for the rolling month, edging up 3.56%.
- Oil (USO ) has dropped like a stone since last Thursday, losing 5.30% of its value. The commodity was hurt by renewed fears that OPEC supply cuts will not be enough to restore balance in the market as U.S. shale players are increasing production.
- PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund (DBA ) was the worst performer for the rolling month, tumbling 4.71%.
- Use our Head-to-Head Comparison tool to compare two ETFs such as (GLD ) and (UNG ) on a variety of criteria such as performance, AUM, trading volume and expenses.
- Currencies posted mixed results this week.
- The British pound (FXB ) rallied the most, with the bulk of the gains taking place after Prime Minister May called for snap elections. It has advanced 2.04% for the week.
- For the rolling month, the Japanese yen (FXY ) was the best performer, surging 2.83%.
- The Australian dollar (FXA ) was the worst performer both for the week and the rolling month, sliding 0.86% and 2.74%, respectively. The Aussie was likely hit by weak commodity prices.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.