The five-week streak of higher prices hit a wall last week for the major asset classes via a set of proxy ETFs. For the first time in over a month, losses dominated the trading week just passed. The four-day stretch through Mar. 24 (the Good Friday holiday trimmed the usual schedule) dispensed losses across the board—the broadest setback since early February.
Last week’s “winner”—i.e., the softest loss—was secured in inflation-indexed Treasuries, aka TIPS. The iShares TIPS Bond (TIP) ticked lower last week with a fractional loss. Effectively treading water looks pretty good next to last week’s red-ink leader: US real estate investment trusts via Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ), which suffered a 2.5% decline.
The downside bias weighed on an ETF-based version of the Global Market Index (GMI.F)–a passively managed benchmark that holds all the major asset classes in market-value weights. GMI.F slid 1.0% last week—the first weekly loss since early February.
The latest downturn took a toll on the one-year total return profile. The repair and recovery trend of late took a turn for the worst, leaving only three slices of global markets with gains for the trailing 252-day trading period through last week’s close. At the top of this short list: foreign government bonds in developed markets: BWX is ahead by 1.7% over the past year in total-return terms (unhedged US dollar results). Meanwhile, broadly defined commodities remained the worst performer for the past year, sliding nearly 24%.
Meantime, GMI.F remained in the red for the trailing 252-day trading window, shedding 3.1%.
Last week’s revised GDP report for 2015’s fourth quarter offered a positive spin for US macro news, which some analysts say sends a message that the macro trend is stronger than it appeared in recent weeks. Is that enough to juice returns this week and regain the bullish momentum?
One analyst has his doubts. “The rally has come from shorts getting scared out of their positions, and you’re not seeing a lot of money coming in on the long side,” John Kilduff, at New York hedge fund Again Capital tells Bloomberg. “It really calls into question the fortitude and staying power of the rally.”