Major Asset Classes | January 2021 | Performance Review

Stocks in emerging markets continued to lead the major asset classes in January as the top monthly performer.

MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 3.1% in January, marking the second straight month for the strongest monthly return. The gain decisively is ahead of the second-best performer: broadly defined commodities, which rose 2.6%, based on the Bloomberg Commodity Index.

Emerging markets shares have been up for four straight months, pushing this slice of the world’s equities to a wide one-year lead of nearly 28%. US stocks are posting the second-best one-year gain: Russell 3000 Index is up 20.5% on a total return basis.

Although several asset classes enjoyed solid gains in January, was no shortage of red ink last month. The biggest slide: foreign property shares. The S&P Global Ex-US Property Index shed 1.9% in January – the benchmark’s first monthly loss since October.

The net change for the major asset classes was down 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, dropped 0.6% in January – the benchmark’s first monthly decline in the past three.

For a quick overview of how GMI fared for the past year relative to the US stock market (Russell 3000 Index) and US bonds (Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index), see the chart below. Echoing recent history, GMI’s 13.9% one-year total return for the past 12 months was more or less midway between one-year gains for equities and fixed income.

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