US Stocks Topped Market Performances Last Week

The US equity market rebounded last week, posting a gain after two straight weekly declines. The advance topped performances for the major asset classes, based on a set of exchanged-traded products.

Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI) surged 2.5% for the five trading days through May 11, the ETF’s biggest weekly increase in two months. Last week’s rally lifted VTI to its highest close since March 16.

“By now, investors priced in all the bad things they could price in: concerns about trade wars, geopolitics, rising rates and even fears that earnings growth peaked,” Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Financial, said last week. “But the economy is still growing and earnings are expected to grow by double digits this year and next.”

The biggest loser last week among the major asset classes: fixed-income securities in emerging markets. VanEck Vectors JP Morgan EM Local Currency Bond (EMLC) fell 0.9%, settling at its lowest weekly close since November.

Bloomberg notes that “the yield on local-currency bonds climbed for a third week, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index, as emerging markets bond funds posted their second biggest weekly outflow year-to-date in their longest losing run since the fourth quarter of 2016, according to EPFR data.”

US equities also reclaimed the top spot for the one-year trend. After last week’s rally, VTI is the top performer for the trailing one-year window. The ETF posted a healthy 16.3% total return for the 12 months through last Friday’s close – fractionally ahead of the second-best performer: Vanguard Global ex-US Real Estate (VNQI).

At the moment there’s just one loss for one-year results among the major asset classes: US investment-grade bonds, broadly defined. Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND) is slightly in the red for the year through May 11 with a 0.1% decline after factoring in payouts.

Rising interest rates have taken a toll on fixed income and more of the same may be in the cards for the near term. In a speech earlier today in Paris, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said The Federal Reserve may need to raise the Fed funds rate above 3% — well above the current 1.50-1.75% target range.

For drawdown, only two of the major asset classes are currently posting peak-to-trough declines in excess of 10%: broadly defined commodities (iPath Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return (DJP)) and emerging-markets bonds (VanEck Vectors JP Morgan EM Local Currency Bond (EMLC)).