Emerging Markets Stocks Continue To Lead Major Asset Classes

Shares in emerging markets were again the top weekly performer for the major asset classes, based on a set of exchange traded funds. Commodities and foreign stocks in developed markets were close second- and third-place winners in last week’s trading through Friday, Feb. 12.

Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO) rose 3.1% last week, closing at a record high. The gain marks the fund’s second consecutive weekly advance.

“We’ve had a big run [in emerging market stocks], and this will continue,” says Mark Mobius, a veteran investor in this slice of global equities. “With the average age [of people] in these countries lower than that of the developed markets, their recovery [from Covid-19] will be faster,” he tells Barron’s. The vaccine, of course, helps, but more important is the psychology. As people begin to feel safe, you’ll see economic activity pick up very fast.”

A weaker dollar is another tailwind, advise strategists at Goldman Sachs. “Global growth should be very strong over the next six months as the vaccination campaigns play out,” Zach Pandl and Kamakshya Trivedi wrote in a note to clients, Bloomberg reports. “We expect global cyclical forces to dominate some degree of ‘US outperformance’, resulting in dollar downside for most crosses.”

US investment-grade bonds posted last week’s only losses for the major asset classes. Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND) shed 0.1%. The dip marks the ETF’s second straight weekly loss, leaving BND at its lowest close since July.

The Global Markets Index (GMI.F) posted its second weekly gain last week. This unmanaged benchmark, which holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights via ETF proxies, rose 1.4%.

Emerging markets stocks also continue to lead one-year performances for the major asset classes. VWO closed up more than 30% at Friday’ close vs. the year-earlier (252 trading days) price after factoring in distributions. US stocks (VTI) are the second-best one-year performer with a 23.1%. total return.

US and foreign property shares are still posting the only losses for the trailing one-year period. Vanguard US Real Estate (VNQ) and its offshore counterpart (VNQI) are down 4.8% and 6.0%, respectively, vs. their year-ago levels on a total-return basis.

GMI.F is currently posting a strong 16.8% gain for the past year.

For drawdown, US and foreign stocks, along with US junk bonds, are currently tied as the strongest performers for this metric via zero peak-to-tough declines.

GMI.F’s current drawdown is also zero, as of last week’s close.

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