Foreign Stocks Topped Last Week’s Market Gains

Equities ex-US posted the strongest increases last week for the major asset classes, based on a set of exchange traded funds. But on Monday morning that rally suddenly looks like ancient history after the attacks on oil-production facilities in Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

The attacks represent a “historically large disruption on critical oil infrastructure,” advises Jeff Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, via a research note.

“This weekend’s drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities mark a major setback to the global geopolitical landscape,” says Taimur Baig, chief economist at DBS Bank Ltd. “Other than helping some oil exporting companies, the overall impact of heightened risk is negative for global equities in the near-term.”

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As for last week’s trading, shares in emerging markets topped the winner’s list for the major asset classes. Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO) rose 2.2% for the week through Sep. 13. The gain marks the third straight weekly advance. Foreign stocks in developed markets were a close second in last week’s horse race: Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets (VEA) gained 2.1%.

The biggest loss last week for the major asset classes: real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the US. After a strong rally in recent history, investors took profits and Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ) fell 1.9%, the fund’s first weekly decline in three weeks.

An ETF-based version of the Global Market Index (GMI.F) continued to rise last week. This unmanaged benchmark, which holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights, increased 0.5% — the index’s third straight weekly advance.

For one-year results, however, US REITs remain firmly in the lead. VNQ is up 14.8% for the trailing 12 months on a total-return basis through Friday’s close.

Broadly defined commodities remained dead last for one-year results. The iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust (GSG) is down 14.0% over the past year, although the attacks on Saudi oil facilities will probably strengthen commodity prices (energy in particular) this week.

GMI.F continues to post a moderate total return for the trailing one-year window, rising 4.9% at last week’s close.

Profiling the major asset classes via momentum indicators continues to paint a relatively strong trend, albeit one that will be tested this week in the wake of heightened geopolitical risk in the Middle East. At last week’s close, a moderate upside bias was in place, based on two sets of moving averages for the ETFs listed above. 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 an intermediate measure of the trend (blue line). At Friday’s close, short-term momentum posted a rebound after weakness in the previous week. But all eyes are now focused on how the attacks on Saudi Arabia reshuffle the risk outlook for the global economy and markets.

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By James Picerno