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Global stocks (-1.3%) kicked off the year by struggling with losses across the board. Emerging market stocks (-4.7%) suffered the most while U.S. large cap stocks (0.0%) were the best performers by posting a flat return. Fixed income asset classes were positive with international bonds (+2.1%) and TIPS (+2.1%) the strongest performers. Alternative asset classes were mixed with commodities and managed futures falling 7.4% and 2.7% for the month, while reinsurance and REITs gained 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively.

Economy

  • Unemployment held steady at 3.5% in December.
  • The pace of housing starts in December jumped 17.0% from the previous month.
  • The initial estimate of Q4 GDP growth came in at a solid 2.1%.

Stocks

  • U.S. large cap stocks (0.0%) were flat for the month which led all equity asset classes. U.S. small value stocks (-4.5%) were the worst performing domestic equity asset class.
  • Both in U.S. and international markets, small cap and value stocks underperformed their large cap and core counterparts.
  • Emerging market stocks (-4.7%) struggled as concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in China made headlines around the world.

Bonds

  • Bond returns rose as investors looked for safety as stocks fell. U.S. intermediate-term bonds gained 1.4% while U.S. short-term bonds had a modest return of 0.3%. TIPS were the strongest performers of U.S. bonds with a gain of 2.1%.
  • International bonds continued to perform well with a 2.1% return for the month.

Alternatives

  • Global REITs (+0.8%) and reinsurance (+0.9%) both posted gains for the month while commodities (-7.4%) and managed futures (-2.7%) fell.

Economic and Market Commentary

Read our latest Economic and Market Commentary for Market Returns Year-To-Date, Market Returns Longer Term Annualized, Economic Indicators, and an Appendix.

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