US REITs Led Last Week’s Partial Rebound In Asset Classes

Roughly half of the major asset classes posted gains last week, led by a strong increase in US real estate investment trusts (REITs), based on a set of exchange-traded products.

Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ) surged 3.3% for the trading week ended Nov. 9. The gain, which lifted the ETF close to its high for the year, marked the strongest weekly advance since March for the fund.

Winners and losers were more or less evenly split last week for the major asset classes, with emerging-market stocks suffering the biggest setback. Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO) resumed its long-running slide last week, falling 2.3%. The ETF has slumped in six of the past seven weeks and has been trending down for most of the year.

The weakness in these markets is attracting interest from value-oriented investors. Mark Mobius, a veteran money manager in the emerging markets space, told CNBC earlier today that stocks in these countries look “very cheap now,” recommending that “it’s time to get in.”

An ETF-based version of the Global Markets Index (GMI.F) rose for a second week. This investable, unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes in market-value weights added 0.8% last week, retracing a bit more of the lost ground in October’s sharp setback.

For the one-year trend, the winners list remains short, with only US stocks and US junk bonds posting gains, as of last week’s close.

US equities continue to be the upside outlier for the year-over-year change. Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI) is up 9.2% on a total return basis, well ahead of the number-two performer: US junk bonds. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond (JNK) is ahead 1.7% vs. the year-earlier level after factoring in distributions.

The rest of the field is underwater for the annual change. The biggest setback at the moment: emerging-market stocks. VWO is down 12.0% for the trailing one-year period.

Meanwhile, GMI.F is hanging on to a slight year-over-year gain via a 1.4% total return as of Friday’s close.

For drawdown, US junk bonds are still posting the smallest peak-to-trough slide for the major asset classes – not quite -2.0%, based on SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond (JNK) after including distributions.

Broadly defined commodities continue to post the steepest slide from the previous peak. The iPath Bloomberg Commodity (DJP) has a current drawdown of nearly -50% at Friday’s close.

GMI.F’s current drawdown is a relatively modest -6.2% at the moment.