The fiscal cliff is drawing closer in the US as the recession in Europe rolls on, but the major asset classes overall posted a modest gain for November. The Global Market Index (GMI) earned 0.8% last month and is up 9.8% on the year. The big winner in November: foreign stocks in developed markets as tracked by MSCI EAFE, which climbed 2.4% last month. But EAFE’s fixed-income counterpart (Citigroup World Government Bond Index ex-US) was on the leading edge of losses, closely followed by REITS—each posting 0.4% declines. Otherwise, the month-to-date numbers were red-ink free.
For the year so far, the performance ledger has remained comfortably in the black for all the major asset classes. Cash, of course, continues to go nowhere fast, but risky assets have delivered varying shades of gain so far this year. By some accounts, it’s an odd sight—broadly distributed profits for all the primary markets amid so much anxiety over what happens next for the big picture.
“Washington brinkmanship and a delay in reaching an agreement on the ‘fiscal cliff’ are likely to rattle markets,” says John Praveen, chief investment strategist at Prudential International Investments Advisers. “These risks and uncertainties are likely to keep markets volatile.”
The volatility so far in 2012 hasn’t been a problem. But if there’s a price to pay for so much uncertainty, will December become the weak link in an otherwise profitable year?