US Real Estate Investment Trusts Surged Last Week

Securitized real estate securities in the US posted the strongest gain for the major asset classes last week, based on a set of exchange-traded products. During a week a mixed results for global markets overall, the strong advance in real estate investment trusts (REITs) is a conspicuous upside outlier.

Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ) jumped 2.8% over the five trading days through August 17. Last week’s gain lifted the ETF to a two-year high.

A combination of softer Treasury yields, risk-off sentiment, and a solid earnings season for REITs provided a healthy tailwind for this corner of the market, according to Hoya Capital Real Estate. “There are signs that real estate fundamentals have entered a period of reacceleration, powered by stronger-than-expected economic growth,” the consultancy advised on Friday.

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Last week’s worst performer among the major asset classes: stocks in emerging markets. Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO) lost 2.4%. The slide marks the third straight weekly decline for the ETF, which closed on Friday near its lowest price in more than a year.

“We don’t think it’s time to add back risk in emerging markets despite cheaper valuations and lighter positioning,” according to a research note from Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg reports. “Instead, we recommend de-risking EM portfolios further.”

For the one-year trend, US equities remain the leader by a wide margin. Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI) closed up 20.4% on Friday vs. the year-earlier price (including distributions). The strong gain is far and away the leader for the 12-month change.

Note, however, that the recent strength in US REITs has propelled VNQ to second place for one-year results, albeit with a relatively modest 5.6% vs. VTI’s stellar rise.

The worst one-year performance at the moment for the major asset classes: bonds in emerging markets. VanEck Vectors JP Morgan Emerging Market Local Currency Bond (EMLC) is in the red by 8.7% for the trailing one-year period.

Ranking the major asset classes by drawdown continues to reflect broadly defined commodities with the biggest peak-to-trough slide. The iPath Bloomberg Commodity Total Return (DJP) is nearly 50% below its previous peak.

Meantime, junk bonds in the US are posting the smallest current drawdown. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond (JNK) closed last week fractionally below its previous peak.

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