How Every Asset Class, Currency, And Sector Performed In 2018

We’re only a few days into 2019, but it appears markets have picked up exactly where they left off.

There is growing uncertainty and volatility almost everywhere, and individual events are starting to become catalysts for sell-offs or rallies. Whether it’s Apple’s recent profit warning or Fed chair Jerome Powell saying that he is “listening closely” to the markets, investors are taking cues from current events to figure out where the herd is grazing.

It’s hard to say where markets will head in 2019 – but before we get into the nitty-gritty of a new year, it’s worth taking one final look back at 2018 to see how it impacted investors.

HOW MARKETS DID IN 2018

We’ll start with broad asset classes, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and cash:

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Asset Classes in 2018

As you can see, it’s mostly a sea of red.

Cash turned out to be the best option for the year, and several asset classes were crushed over the course of 2018, including crude oil and nearly all stocks. Despite this, large-cap U.S. stocks (S&P 500) had no issues in outperforming equity alternatives, like small-cap stocks, foreign stocks, or emerging markets.

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S&P 500 Sectors in 2018

Breaking down the S&P 500 further into its sectors, it’s clear that nearly every industry struggled simultaneously.

Energy (-20.5%) and Materials (-16.4%) sectors were the hardest hit, and even the Technology sector eventually capitulated by the end of the year. Amazingly, Apple was considered a $1 trillion company in August, but today the tech giant’s market capitalization has already dropped down to a measly $700 billion.

The one exception to the general trend in S&P 500 stocks was Healthcare, which posted 4.7% returns over the course of 2018. Companies like Merck, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer all saw their stocks grow by double-digits, and it’s possible the sector could stay strong in 2019 as the world continues to age.

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