Last Week’s Market Leaders: Foreign Corporate Bonds, Real Estate

Investment-grade corporate bonds in foreign markets topped last week’s widespread gains for the major asset classes, based on a set of exchange-traded funds for trading through Friday, Jan. 25.

Invesco International Corporate Bond (PICB) led the winners with a 1.5% rise last week. The gain marks the fifth straight weekly increase for the ETF, which closed at its highest price since October.

US and foreign real estate funds were in close pursuit, each rising 1.3% in last week’s trading via Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ) and Vanguard Global ex-US Real Estate (VNQI).

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Last week’s biggest loss for the major asset classes: broadly defined commodities. The iPath Bloomberg Commodity (DJP) was down fractionally. The exchange-traded note’s 0.2% loss is its first calendar-week setback this year.

Last week’s upside bias overall lifted 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 edged up 0.2% last week – the fifth straight weekly gain for the benchmark.

For the one-year change, US real estate investment trusts (REITs) continue to lead the field. Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ) posted a 5.2% total return for the trailing 12 months as of Friday’s close. The rise is moderately ahead of the second-best one-year gain via US investment-grade bonds: Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) is up 1.0%.

The biggest one-year loser is still found in emerging market stocks. Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO) has lost a steep 16.3% over the trailing one-year period.

GMI.F, by comparison, has off a relatively moderate 6.1% from the year-ago level.

For current drawdown, the smallest peak-to-trough decline for the major asset classes: US investment-grade bonds. Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) closed last week at just 0.3% below its previous peak.

At the opposite end of the drawdown spectrum: broadly defined commodities. DJP ended last week’s trading with a current drawdown of roughly -50%.

GMI.F’s current drawdown: -6.7%.