Markets in perspective – July 2016 in review – Bouncing back from June woes

Capital Markets Returns July 2016
Sources: U.S. Equity: Russell 3000® Index, Non-U.S. Equity: Russell Developed ex-U.S. Large Cap Index, Emerging Markets: Russell Emerging Markets Index, U.S. Bonds: Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, Global REITs: FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Real Estate Index, Commodities: Bloomberg Commodity Index, Balanced: 30% U.S. Equity, 20% Non-U.S. Equity, 5% EM, 35% Bonds, 5% REITs, 5% Commodities.

After an uncertain and volatile end to the first half of the year due to the UK’s unexpected decision to leave the EU, markets bounced back in July with nearly all major asset classes posting positive returns for the month.

Equities

Despite the uncertainty after the Brexit vote, non-U.S. equities (Russell Developed ex-U.S. Large Cap Index) outperformed U.S. equities (Russell 3000® Index) with a return of just under 5% for the month. This brought the Russell Developed ex-U.S. Index back into positive territory for the year-to-date, which means that all major equity indexes are now positive for the year to date ending July 31, 2016. Emerging markets continued to rally as well with the Russell Emerging Market Index up 4.8% for the month of July. This brings their year to date return to just under 11% and continues their run as the best performing area of the equity markets year to date.

Fixed income

Although U.S. interest rates were mostly unchanged, fixed income had a few wild swings in July as the market tried to determine the impact of the Brexit vote. After starting the month of July at 1.47%, concerns about the negative implications of Brexit pushed the yield on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note down to 1.36%. As calm was restored, rates rebounded back to 1.58%, only to close the month relatively unchanged at 1.45%. The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index rose .63% in July, however Global High Yield Bonds (BofA Merrill Lynch Global High Yield TR Index – hedged) were the top fixed income performer for the month, posting a return of 2.49%.

Real assets

Real assets appeared to be a great source of return in July as Global Real Estate (FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Index) and Global Infrastructure (S&P Global Infrastructure Index) returned 5.02% and 2.76%, respectively. Year to date as of July, global real estate and global infrastructure have been two of the top performing asset classes within the real assets segment, with returns well into the double digits. The only real assets category that failed to post a positive return for the month was Commodities (Bloomberg Commodity Index) which was down -5.11% as the price of oil continued to decline. That said, despite the pullback in July, Commodities are still positive 7.46% for the year to date as of July.

Asset Class Dashboard – July 2016

A strong month of returns for nearly all asset classes tracked in the Asset Class Dashboard moved the 12-month returns higher for most areas of the market during July 2016. As a whole, 10 out of 12, asset classes improved their overall 12-month return with the exception of the more conservative areas of the market, such as Large Cap Defensive U.S. Equity and U.S. Bonds. The most notable movers for the month were Small Cap U.S. Equities and Emerging Markets Equities, both of which moved out of negative territory after readings of -6.7% and -11% on the June 2016 reading of the Dashboard. All asset classes except for cash remain within their historical typical range and all but non-U.S. equities, global equities and commodities are posting a positive 12-month return. The rebound in risky assets in July is a good sign that markets appear to have calmed down and moved on from the initial concerns over the result of the Brexit vote.

Asset Class Dashboard
Large cap U.S. equity: Russell 1000® Index, Large cap Defensive U.S. equity: Russell 1000 Defensive Index, Large cap dynamic U.S. equity: Russell 1000 Dynamic Index, Small cap U.S. equity: Russell 2000 Index, Non-U.S. Equity: Russell Developed ex-U.S. Large Cap Index, Global equity: Russell Developed Large Cap Index, Emerging markets: Russell Emerging Markets Index, Commodities: Bloomberg Commodity Index, Global infrastructure: S&P Global Infrastructure Index, Global real estate: FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Index, Cash: Citigroup 3-Month U.S. Treasury Bill Index, Global high yield bonds: Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) Global High Yield Index, Emerging markets debt: JP Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index Plus, U.S. bonds: Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index.

How do I read this chart?

This dashboard is intended as a tool to set context and perspective when evaluating the current state of a sample of asset classes.

The ranges of 12 month returns for each asset class are calculated from its underlying monthly index returns. The stated inception date is the first full month of an index’s history available for the dashboard calculation.

Here is how to read the graphic on this page:

FOR EACH INDICATOR, THE HORIZONTAL BAR SHOWS FOUR THINGS

A GRAY BAR shows the full range of historical rolling 12-month returns for a sample of asset classes.

A BLUE COLOR BAND represents the typical range (one standard deviation away from the mean, i.e. 68% of historical observations) of rolling 12-month returns for these asset classes.

AN ORANGE MARKER represents the most recent 12-month return of the asset classes.

The bottom line

Following a volatile end to the second quarter, global capital markets bounced back with strong performance in July turning most asset classes positive for the year-to-date. An investor in a hypothetical balanced index portfolio would have earned a return of 3.69% in the month of July, bringing the year-to-date return of that hypothetical index portfolio up to 7.66%. The market’s rebound in July was a helpful reminder of the potential benefits of staying invested and not over reacting to short-term market volatility.