What Mr. Market giveth, he also taketh away. That was mostly true for this month, as the chart below documents. The high-flying asset classes were generally the ones that suffered the most in May, as of yesterday’s closing prices.
The primary exception was commodities. A high-flying asset of late, by any measure, but one that also led the pack in producing what was otherwise in short supply in May: robust positive returns.
Our measure of commodities is the PIMCO Commodity Real Return Strategy fund, which tracks the Dow Jones-AIG Commodity Index. By this gauge, May was in fact merry, with the mutual fund advancing 1.95% for the month.
On the opposite end of the performance spectrum is the sharp loss for emerging markets stocks, which retreated by 12.6% this month through yesterday, measured here by the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF. But even that deep cut has yet to knock the asset class from its perch as the best performer over the past year. Emerging markets equities may be suffering these days, but in the race over the past 12 months they’re still far and away the top dog.
The question, of course, is what comes next, and on that score there is always far less clarity compared with dissecting what’s just passed. In any case, perhaps this is a timely moment for a strategically minded investor to ask if momentum has legs in bear as well as bull markets.
Asset class proxies: Vanguard REIT Index VIPER, iShares Russell 2000, iShares MSCI Emerging Markets, MSCI EAFE, S&P 500 SPDR, Vanguard High-Yield Corporate, PIMCO EM Bond, Morningstar Short Gov’t Category, PIMCO Foreign Bond, iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond, Vanguard Inflation Protected Securities, PIMCO Commodity Real Return Strategy.