Stocks in emerging markets blasted out of the gate for the start of 2018, once again posting the strongest monthly gain for the major asset classes. Overall, most markets advanced in January, with three exceptions: US real estate trusts (REITs), which suffered the biggest loss last month, along with modest declines in US investment-grade bonds and inflation-indexed Treasuries.
The clear winner in the kick-off to the new year: emerging-markets equities. This slice of the global equity market didn’t just lead the field, it left most asset classes in the dust. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index surged 8.3%. January’s second-place performer (US equities via the Russell 3000 Index) delivered a strong 5.3% total return, but it was no match for MSCI EM.
Meanwhile, US REITs continued to slide, posting the biggest loss last month. The MSCI REIT Index tumbled a hefty 4.2% in January, the fifth setback in the past six months for securitized property shares.
The winning streak rolled on last month for the Global Market Index (GMI), an unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes in market-value weights. The index advanced for a 14th consecutive month in January, rising 3.9%. The gain marks the strongest return in nearly two years.