Clean Sweep of Higher Prices

A clean sweep of higher prices lifted all corners of the global markets for the shortened Christmas week of trading, based on a set of ETFs representing the major asset classes. 


By James Picerno

The holiday rally through Dec. 27 is the latest installment in an extraordinary year that’s on track to deliver gains in everything once 2019’s final trade closes.

Last week’s big winner: foreign real estate/real estate investment trusts (REITs). Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Real Estate (VNQI) surged 1.6%, marking the fifth straight weekly gain, which lifted the fund to a record close.

Broadly defined commodities were a close second, posting a gain that was only fractionally softer than VNQI’s rally. The iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust (GSG) rose for a fourth straight week, closing on Friday at a seven-month high.

The weakest performer last week: inflation-indexed Treasuries. The iShares TIPS Bond (TIP) inched up fractionally.

The rally in all corners continued to lift the Global Market Index (GMI.F) — an unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights. GMI.F rose 0.6% — the index’s fifth straight weekly gain.

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All the major asset classes are currently posting one-year gains as well. The top performer over the past 12 months: US equities. Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI) is up 32.1% for the trailing one-year window through Friday’s close after factoring in dividends.

The second-strongest one-year performer: US real estate investment trusts (REITs). Vanguard Real Estate (NYSEARCA:VNQ) is ahead by a strong 28.6% total return.

The softest one-year gain for the major asset classes: foreign government bonds. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays International Treasury Bond (BWX) is up 5.9% for the year through the end of last week.

The rally in everything continues to prop up GMI.F by an impressive degree. The index is currently ahead by 22.4% for the trailing one-year window.

The broad-based rally continues to support a bullish momentum profile overall for the ETFs listed above. The analysis is based on two sets of moving averages. The first compares the 10-day moving average with its 100-day counterpart — a proxy for short-term trending behavior (red line in chart below). A second set of moving averages (50 and 200 days) represent the intermediate measure of the trend (blue line). Nearly all the asset classes continue to reflect an unchallenged bullish bias as the crowd effectively prices in perfection for global markets generally. The year ahead comes with plenty of caveats, but 2019 looks set to end with an extraordinarily bullish tailwind.