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 full of both economic and data events.
- The U.S. announced plans to impose tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, triggering fears of a trade war with China that led to a stock market plunge. President Donald Trump asked U.S. Trade Representatives to come up with a list of Chinese goods that will face import levies.
- Amid trade war worries, the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 25 basis points to a range between 1.50% and 1.75%. Led by newly-installed Jerome Powell, the Fed telegraphed a more aggressive path to raising interest rates and increased its 2018 GDP forecasts from 2.5% growth to 2.7%. Meanwhile, the Central Bank expects inflation to run near its target of 1.9% in 2018 and rise slightly higher in the years after.
- Across the Atlantic, the Bank of England kept interest rates on hold at 0.5% as lower inflation figures and modest wage increases convinced policymakers that now is not the right time to act. However, the Central Bank strongly hinted that the conditions for a rate hike might be met in the near future.
- U.S. housing starts fell 7% in February to 1.23 million, disappointing analysts’ expectations of 1.28 million. The weak figure comes after a blockbuster report in January of 1.32 million starts. Building permits also dropped considerably, by 5.7%, to 1.29 million. Economists had forecasted 1.32 million permits in February.
- European CPI continued to disappoint, with the final figures coming in 0.1% percentage points lower than expected at 1.1% in February.
- Consumer CPI in the UK dropped to 2.7% in February compared to 3% in the previous month, as the entire developed world experienced lower inflation.
- U.S. existing home sales rose 3% month-over-month in February and 1.1% compared to the same period last year to 5.54 million. The report is a rare bright spot in an otherwise bleak data environment.
- Crude oil inventories have ended a three-week positive streak, falling in the five-day period through March 16 by 2.6 million barrels. As a result of the drop, inventories remain 19.7% below their levels a year ago.
- U.S. unemployment claims came in at 229,000 for the week ended March 17, higher than consensus estimates of 225,000.
Risk Appetite Review
- Markets were in sell-off mode this week due to fears of a global trade war.
- The broad market (SPY ) was the worst performer in the past five days, declining by nearly 4%.
- Unsurprisingly, Low Volatility (SPLV ) posted the smallest losses, down 2.38%.
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Major Index Review
- As expected, global equities were all down.
- Technology stocks (QQQ ) were the worst performers this week due to a double whammy; Facebook tumbled after the eruption of a scandal involving the improper use of user data and Trump promised to tax $50 billion of Chinese imports. (QQQ ) fell 5.23%.
- Small cap stocks (IWM ) are the best performers both for the week and the rolling month, down 2.31% and up 0.52%, respectively. Because of their limited exposure to international trade, the blow from a potential trade war is expected to be limited.
- Dow Jones (DIA ) is the worst monthly performer with a decline of 4.42%.
- To see how these indices performed a week before last, check out ETF Scorecard: March 16 Edition.
- Sectors were all down, with one exception.
- The energy sector (XLE ) was the best performer for the past five days and the only riser, up 0.64%, thanks to increasing oil prices.
- The technology sector (XLK ) is the worst performer for the week, down as much as 5.39%.
Foreign Equity Review
- Foreign equities were all down.
- After being the worst performer, Russia (RSX ) was largely shielded from the global sell-off thanks to rising oil prices. (RSX ) is down just 0.13% this week. As a result of the small drop, Russia is also the best monthly performer, falling 1.82%.
- China (FXI ), which was on the receiving end of import tariff threats from the U.S., dropped the most this week by 3.64%.
- For the rolling month, however, India (EPI ) remains the worst performer, tumbling 4.13%.
- 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.
- Oil (USO ) recorded impressive gains this week, surging by 4.86%, after Saudi Arabia and Russia signaled that the production curbs introduced in 2017 will be extended to 2019 to stabilize the market. As a result of the news, (USO ) is also the best performer for the rolling month, up 4.27%.
- Copper (JJC ), meanwhile, is the worst performer, tumbling 3.4% this week and 6.55% for the rolling month, amid trade war fears.
- The British pound (FXB ) advanced the most this week, by 1.17%, as the Bank of England hinted that a rate hike might come soon.
- The Australian dollar (FXA ), meanwhile, is the worst performer both for the week and the rolling month, down 0.56% and 2.39%, respectively, as a potential trade war between China and the U.S. would have a negative impact on the Australian economy, which depends on Chinese exports.
- For the rolling month, the Japanese yen (FXY ) remains the best performer, up 1.60%.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.