How Every Asset Class, Currency, And S&P 500 Sector Performed In 2020

U.S. equities and emerging market equities had double-digit returns despite the tumultuous year. Small cap stocks in the Russell 2000 outpaced the S&P 500 by 3%, but also saw a steeper drawdown during times of volatility.

Although there were some wild drawdowns in 2020, nothing compared to the drop into negative prices for WTI crude oil that occurred in April. Futures traded all the way down to -$37.63 a barrel when travel cancellations brought oil demand to a standstill and supply cut agreements weren’t reached by OPEC members.

U.S. government and corporate bonds had a positive year, however their returns were primarily driven by support from the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and market operations. The Federal Reserve increased its portfolio of Treasury notes and bonds by 79% since March, with its total assets reaching $7.3 trillion at the end of 2020.

Performance by S&P 500 Sector

Unsurprisingly, the energy sector was hit the hardest last year, with value sectors generally struggling to perform compared to growth sectors.

Returns of S&P 500 Sectors in 2020

Information technology continued to outperform like in 2019, with Amazon (AMZN) (76%), Apple (AAPL) (81%), and Netflix (NFLX) (66%) the three best performing FAANG members. Other tech stocks like Nvidia (NVDA) (121%), Paypal (PYPL) (115%), and AMD (AMD) (100%) comfortably sailed to new all-time highs with triple-digit returns for 2020.

As the communication services (21.3%) and consumer discretionary (32%) sectors also performed well, the latter saw the biggest bounce from the lows of any S&P 500 sector (96%).

Foreign Exchange Performance in 2020

Early on in the year, major currencies generally followed similar patterns as they all fell against the U.S. dollar in March’s flight to safety. The Swiss franc was one of the most resilient currencies, drawing down only -2.1% from the 2020 open. It was also one of the best performers at the end of the year alongside the euro and Australian dollar, with gains of 9% or more.

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Disclosure: This material has been distributed for informational purposes only. It is the opinion of the author and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any ...

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