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Powerful Rally Boosts Global Markets

A powerful rally on Friday helped boost prices on a weekly basis for most markets around the world via a set of exchange-traded products.

 

By James Picerno

 

With the exception of US real estate investment trusts (REITs), all the major asset classes ended the trading week on January 4 with gains.

Last week’s biggest gain was posted by stocks in foreign developed-market countries. Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets (VEA) surged 2.3%, marking a second weekly advance and the strongest since November.

The only loser last week for the major asset classes: Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ). This REIT index fund slipped 0.1% for the trading week – the fourth straight decline on a weekly calendar basis. The latest dip leaves the ETF close to its lowest close since last May.

Last week’s upside bias flowed through to an ETF-based version of the Global Markets Index (GMI.F). This investable, unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes in market-value weights jumped 1.6% last week, the benchmark’s second straight weekly gain.

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Despite last week’s powerful rallies, all but one of the major asset classes remain deep in the hole for the trailing one-year change. The lone exception: investment-grade bonds in the US. Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND) is ahead by 0.4% as of Friday’s close vs. the year-earlier price (after including distributions).

The rest of the field is posting losses for the one-year window. The biggest setback is in emerging-markets stocks: Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (NYSEARCA:VWO) has shed 15.9% over the past year.

By comparison, GMI.F’s one-year decline is a relatively middling -6.4%.

Reviewing the asset classes via current drawdown reveals that investment-grade US bonds are posting the smallest decline: BND’s peak-to-trough slide is a slight -0.3%.

By contrast, the biggest drawdown is in broadly defined commodities: iPath Bloomberg Commodity (NYSEARCA:DJP) has shed more than 50% relative to its previous peak.

GMI.F’s current drawdown: -10.1%.