Major Asset Classes | July 2019 | Performance Review

US equities continued to lead the major asset classes in July. For a second straight month, the Russell 3000 Index posted the highest monthly return, closely followed by US real estate investment trusts (REITs).

With roughly half the field rising last month, US stocks led the winners with a 1.5% increase. With the exception of May, the Russell 3000 has increased in every month so far this year. Year to date through last month’s close, the Russell 3000 is sitting on a strong 20.5% total return.

US REITs are competitive second-place performer at the moment. MSCI REIT Index rose 1.3% in July and is ahead by 19.2% so far in 2019. On both counts, the results are just behind US equities.

Foreign assets were last month’s big losers (in unhedged US dollar terms). Thanks in part to a strong greenback, foreign junk bonds suffered the biggest setback in July among the major asset classes. Markit Global ex-US High Yield Bond Index slumped 1.5% last month.

Note that on a year-to-date basis, a rally in everything prevails. If your portfolio is showing a loss so far for 2019, the red ink is probably due to ill-advised active bets. Indeed, the Global Market Index (GMI), an unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights, is up a strong 13.3% so far this year.

An upside bias for indexes is conspicuous for the one-year trailing window as well. The past 12 months have been especially kind to a broad measure of US investment-grade bonds. The Bloomberg Aggregate Bond Index is up 8.1% for the one-year comparison—edging out the 7.1% one-year increase for US equities (Russell 3000), as shown in the chart below.