Major Asset Classes | August 2019 | Performance Review

US real estate investment trusts (REITs) and investment-grade US bonds surged in August as risk-off sentiment dominated trading around the world. Equities and commodities, by contrast, suffered as investors sought out safe havens and dumped risk assets.

MSCI REIT earned the strongest return for the major asset classes last month. For a fourth month in a row, MSCI REIT Index posted a gain in August, rising a strong 3.4%–the
strongest monthly gain for US REITs since January. Foreign government
inflation-linked bonds and investment-grade US debt were in close pursuit,
delivering the second- and third-best gains last month, respectively.

The biggest loss last month was posted by stocks in emerging markets. For a second month, MSCI Emerging Markets lost ground, sliding a hefty 4.9% in August.

Despite the recent turbulence in global markets, all the major asset classes continue to post gains for the year-to-date window. The leading performance this year through the end of August: US REITs, which have soared more than 23% in 2019.

The bull run for the year-to-date profile also applies to the Global Market Index (GMI), an unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights. So far this year, GMI has climbed a strong 12.7% after factoring in distributions.

For the one-year trailing window, however, GMI’s gain is a modest 2.4%, well behind US investment-grade bonds, which are up 10.2% over the past 12 months, based on the Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index. Meantime, US stocks (Russell 3000) are now underperforming GMI for one-year results, rising just 1.3%.