US Real Estate Investment Trusts Topped Last Week’s Gains

Securitized real estate shares in the US led markets for the broad-based gains in the major asset classes last week, based on a set of exchange-traded products.

Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ), which targets US-listed real estate investment trusts (REITs), surged 4.6% for the trading week through Friday, Jan. 11. The gain marks the biggest weekly advance for the ETF since 2015.

The New York Times notes that “after years of being overshadowed by the likes of Apple and Alphabet, real estate funds have lately edged ahead of the overall stock market by betting mainly on old-fashioned assets like office buildings, malls and warehouses.”

Even after last week’s rally, however, VNQ remains well below its previous peak. At Friday’s close, the fund’s drawdown was nearly -6.0%.

The only loss last week for the major asset classes was in a broad-based fund of US investment-grade bonds. Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND) lost a fractional 0.1% — the first calendar-week decline for the ETF in nearly three months.

The widespread gains in last week’s trading lifted an ETF-based version of the Global Markets Index (GMI.F). This investable, unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes in market-value weights jumped 1.9% last week, marking the third straight weekly advance for the benchmark.

For the one-year trend, however, most asset classes remain under water. Except for a 2.6% return for VNQ and a 0.7% total return for BND, the rest of the field is nursing losses as of Friday’s close vs. the year-earlier level.

The biggest one-year decline is in emerging market stocks. Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO) has lost 14.8% over the past 12 months.

For comparison, GMI.F’s one-year slide is a relatively modest -5.4%.

Note that the smallest drawdown at last week’s close for the major asset classes was posted by Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND), which was off just 0.4% from its previous peak.

Meanwhile, the biggest current drawdown is still held by broadly defined commodities. The iPath Bloomberg Commodity (DJP) has shed more than 50% from its previous peak.

GMI.F’s current drawdown: -8.4%.