No corner has been left untouched by 2019’s bull run, based on a set of exchange-traded funds that represent the world’s major equity regions. China is still the leading performer, but even the year-to-date laggard – Latin America – is posting a solid gain.
The iShares MSCI China (MCHI) is firmly in first place, posting a 20.8% performance so far in 2019, based on prices through yesterday’s close (Apr. 3). Indeed, MCHI ticked up on Wednesday to its highest price since last July.
Survey data published this week that focuses on China’s manufacturing sector persuaded the crowd that the country’s recent slowdown may be ebbing and perhaps giving way to firmer or at least stable growth.
“I think the developments in China are significant. The purchasing managers’ numbers in China were much better than expected,” says Ethan Harris, who heads up global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “It really was the first green shoots that are fairly convincing here. Clearly, China has opened the spigots on policy easing.”
The weakest performer this year is Latin America, although the iShares Latin America 40 (ILF) is still posting solid results: the ETF is up 8.2% so far this year.
The broad trend overall is also unmistakably bullish, based on the year-to-date run of Vanguard Total World Stock Index (VT), the benchmark for the global equity space. As of yesterday’s close, VT’s rise in 2019 edged up to 14.1%.
One measure of the degree of bullish sentiment in global equity markets is using diffusion indexes that track two sets of moving averages for the funds listed above (except VT). The first definition compares the 10-day moving with the 50-day average, providing a profile of short-term trending behavior (black line in chart below). A second set of moving averages (50 and 200 days) offers an intermediate measure of the trend (red line). The chart below summarizes the results, showing the ranges from 0 (all funds trending down) to 1.0 (all funds trending up). Based on current data, it’s safe to say that the markets generally are priced for perfection (or close to it).