US Bonds Offset Widespread Losses In Global Markets Last Week

Investment-grade US fixed income provided relief from the losses that otherwise weighed on the major asset classes last week, based on a set of exchange-traded funds.

Vanguard Total US Bond Market (BND) posted the only gain for our fund proxies for the trading week through Friday, Aug. 20. BND rose 0.2%, marking the ETF’s second straight weekly advance.

Markets this week will be keenly focused on the Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole symposium, which starts on Thursday, Aug. 26.

“We’re not expecting a big policy reveal at this meeting,” predicts Mark Cabana at Bank of America. “I don’t think Powell wants to front run the [September policy] meeting, given the myriad of voices that are out there. I don’t think this is the time when Powell really wants to make a splash.”

The rest of the major asset classes slumped last week. The outliers: stocks in emerging markets (VWO) and commodities (GCC), which posted the biggest weekly decline with a 4.3% loss.

A benchmark portfolio that holds all the major asset classes retreated last week. The Global Market Index (GMI.F) fell 1.2%. This unmanaged benchmark (maintained by holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights via ETF proxies.

For the one-year return, US real estate investment trusts (REITs) are in the lead. Vanguard US Real Estate (VNQ) posted a 36.9% total return, edging out the second-best one-year performer: US stocks via Vanguard Total US Stock Market (VTI), which gained 34.7% over the past 12 months.

The biggest one-year loss is currently in foreign government bonds in developed markets via SPDR Bloomberg Barclays International Treasury Bond (BWX), which is down 1.1% for the trailing one-year window.

Most of the major asset classes continue to post minimal drawdowns – no deeper than -4%. US real estate (VNQ) is currently the closest to its previous high via a -0.5% drawdown.

GMI.F’s current drawdown is a mild -1.2%.

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