These Were The Best And Worst Performing Assets In October And YTD
October was a month most investors will wish to quickly forget. As DB’s Jim Reid writes, for the most part October will likely be remembered as the month where ‘Hard Brexit’ concerns well and truly jumped into the spotlight and Sterling related assets suffered as a result. Politics was a fairly consistent theme during the month however with the US Presidential Election campaign also attracting plenty of attention. Earnings season has provided another distraction for markets while we’ve also had the usual focus on central banks including a number of speculative ECB stories. Add to that the ongoing OPEC related news and it’s certainly made for a busy October.
As DB adds, it was sterling assets which really stand out. Unsurprisingly the negative news flow had a big impact on the currency with Sterling dropping -6% during the month from around $1.30 to the low $1.20’s. Negative sentiment also hurt Gilts which in local currency terms dropped -4% however in USD hedged terms plummeted -10% and the most amongst the assets in the asset sample. It was a similar story for UK equities which were up 1% in local terms but -5% in USD terms. Given the moves for Gilts, Sterling credit also had a poor total return month despite the BoE purchasing scheme impressing with the initial pace of purchases in October. Indeed GBP corps, non-fins and fins were -8% to -9% in USD total return terms (and -2-4% in local currency terms) although GBP HY (0% local and -6% USD terms) did outperform.
It wasn’t just Gilts which suffered in bond markets however. With markets also reassessing inflation expectations, in USD terms BTP’s (-5%), EU Sovereigns (-4%), Bunds (-4%) and Spanish Bonds (-4%) all suffered. BTPs being also hit as the polls leaned slightly towards a rejection of the senate reform referendum in early December. Treasuries (-1%) outperformed but were still weaker during the month. Those moves had another obvious knock on in credit markets too although performance was reasonably resilient despite the rates selloff. US credit outperformed with indices finishing flat to -1% during the month while European indices were broadly -1% to -3% with ECB purchases still evidently having a positive impact and helping out-perform rates. Interestingly EUR higher beta HY and sub-fins outperformed more.
Speaking of financials, banks had a decent month. European Banks were +9% in local terms and +6% in USD terms no doubt supported by better than expected earnings to some degree, and also the positive correlation to the move higher for bond yields. Other equity markets were more mixed however. The FTSE MIB, Nikkei and IBEX were all +2% in USD terms while the DAX (-1%), S&P 500 (-2%) and Stoxx 600 (-3%) were more disappointing. It was a similar story for EM equities too which were little changed during the month, although the Bovespa (+14%) did top the table for the month. The other asset class to highlight is commodities. Oil traded around OPEC headlines and had looked on to course to end the month flatish before yesterday’s sharp plunge saw WTI and Brent finish -3% and -4% for the month respectively. It was the softs which outperformed with Corn (+5%) and Wheat (+4%) continuing the strong performance from the end of September, while Gold (-3%) and Silver (-7%) were down as Fed rate hike expectations for December crept above 70%. All in all, in local currency terms 17 of the 39 assets finished with a positive return while just 12 assets did in USD terms.
A quick refresher where we are YTD now. It’s the usual culprits which head the top of the leaderboard in local currency terms with the Bovespa (+50%), Silver (+29%), WTI (+27%) and Gold (+20%) leading while Russian equities (+18%) round out the top five. Sterling (-17%) takes up the bottom place while Italian equities (-17%) and European Banks (-13%) are still languishing. It’s worth noting however that these assets have bounced back from heavier losses earlier in the year.
Elsewhere the S&P 500 (+6%) has had a reasonable YTD while the Stoxx 600 (-4%) has struggled. Bond markets outside of Gilts are in the 1-5% return range while credit markets have had a strong year. European indices are up anywhere from 4-8% while USD IG indices are up 5-9%. US HY is leading the way however, returning +14% YTD.