Major Asset Classes | February 2021 | Performance Review

Commodities led a rally in global risk assets in March. Bond markets, by contrast, suffered as interest rates rose. Overall, February was a mixed month for the major asset classes, echoing January’s return profile.

Broadly defined commodities were the clear leader last month. The Bloomberg Commodity Index rose 6.5%. The gain marks the fifth straight monthly advance and the best performance since last August.

US and foreign stocks also posted solid gains as did real estate investment trusts. The big losers last month: investment-grade bonds. The deepest shade of red ink was in foreign government inflation-linked bonds, which tumbled 3.1%, based on FTSE Russell World Inflation-Linked Securities Index ex-US.

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Due to higher interest rates last month, US investment-grade bonds retreated. The Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index slumped 1.4% in February, the second straight monthly setback.

The overall trend for markets was bullish last month, based on the Global Market Index (GMI). This unmanaged benchmark (maintained by, which holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights, rallied 1.6% in February. The gain marks a strong rebound following January’s 0.6% slide.

Reviewing GMI’s performance over the past year relative to US stocks and bonds shows that equities remain the decisive winner. The Russell 3000 Index is up more than 35% over the past year, well ahead of GMI’s 22.6% total return. US investment-grade bonds, by contrast, barely budged, posting a 1.4% total return for the year through February’s close.

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