US REITs Continue To Lead Weekly Returns For Major Asset Classes

For a second week in a row, real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the US posted the strongest return for the major asset classes. The latest gain for REITs unfolded during a mixed run of performances in last week’s trading, based on a set of exchange-traded products.

Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ) gain topped the weekly winner’s list for trading through Friday, Feb. 8. The ETF’s 1.5% gain marks the fund’s fifth straight weekly advance and the strongest by far for last week’s performance profile for the major slices of global markets.

At the opposite end of the weekly performance scale: broadly defined commodities, which posted the biggest loss for the major asset classes. The iPath Bloomberg Commodity (DJP ) slumped 1.3%.

The generally negative performances for markets last week trimmed an ETF-based version of the Global Markets Index (GMI.F). This investable, unmanaged benchmark that holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights ticked down 0.2% — the benchmark’s first weekly decline since mid-December.

US REITs also led the field for the trailing one-year return (252 trading days). Vanguard Real Estate (VNQ) is ahead by a sizzling 18.1% as of Friday’s close vs. the year-ago level after factoring in distributions.

VNQ’s strong one-year performance is far ahead of the second-best one-year change via US junk bonds, based on SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond (JNK), which is up 3.2%.

Emerging market stocks continue to post the biggest one-year loss. Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets (VWO) is off 9.5% over the past year.

Meantime, GMI.F’s trailing one-year change remained in the red last week with a fractional 0.7% decline.

For the current drawdown, US REITs (VNQ) and a broad measure of investment-grade bonds in the US — Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND) — are tied with zero declines from the previous peak. In other words, both ETFs ended last week at new highs.

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