Jul 20, 2018
Global equity markets advanced slightly last week as upbeat commentary from the Federal Reserve and strong earnings reports from U.S. banks mostly offset tariff concerns. The S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3%, led higher by financials. Offshore the S&P 500 ended the week slightly higher, the EURO STOXX 50 gained 0.2% while the Nikkei 225 added 0.4%. Domestic and global bank ETFs (BNKS and MVB) were amongst the top performers along with Japanese equity funds (UBJ and IJP). The U.S. dollar weakened against the majors despite rising Treasury yields. The euro appreciated by 0.3%, while the yen gained 0.9%. The Australian dollar fell slightly to US74.15c. Commodities retreated, led lower by precious metals. Gold fell 1.2%, while silver was down 1.9% and palladium dropped 4.7%. WTI Crude declined by 0.8%. The five poorest performing ETFs for the week were all commodity-linked. Soft commodities were the exception. BetaShares Agriculture ETF (QAG) was the top performing ETF for the week. The Australian ETF market saw inflows of $158m into and outflows of $213m from domestically domiciled funds last week. The largest inflows were into SPDR S&P/ASX 200 Fund (STW), while there were significant outflows from both BetaShares S&P/ASX 200 Resources Sector ETF (QRE) and VanEck Vectors Australian Resources ETF (MVR) as well as BetaShares Australian High Interest Cash ETF (AAA).
Jul 13, 2018
Global equity markets rose last week despite increasing global trade concerns. The S&P 500 added 1.5% as cyclical stocks returned to favour. BetaShares Nasdaq 100 ETF (NDQ) returned 2.5% for the week. Asia and emerging markets advanced; Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 3.7% and China's Shanghai Composite rose 3.1%, its first weekly gain in eight weeks. ITW, CETF and EMKT were all amongst the top performing ETFs for the week. Domestically the S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.1% as utilities, energy and financial stocks traded lower. Commodity-related funds (QAG, MNRS and GDX) were amongst the poorest performers for the week. The U.S. dollar strengthened, gaining 1.7% against the yen and 0.5% against the euro. Pound sterling declined on heightened Brexit concerns. The Australian dollar ended the week marginally lower at US74.24c. The Chinese yuan declined for the fifth straight week. Commodities more impacted by the global trade uncertainty than equities with WTI Crude declining 3.8% and the broad Bloomberg Commodity Index dropping 2.8%. Gold retreated by 0.9% and other precious metals also declined. The Australian ETF market saw inflows of $95m into and outflows of $11m from domestically domiciled funds last week. The largest inflows were into Platinum's active equity ETFs (PIXX and PAXX). The bulk of outflows were from a range of domestic equity funds (HVST, QFN and GEAR).
Jul 06, 2018
Global equity markets were mixed last week with global trade-war concerns being offset by up-beat economic data. The S&P 500 added 1.5% as technology and defensive sector stocks outperformed. U.S. employment grew more than expected in June. The EURO STOXX 50 added 1.6%, while stocks weakened across Asia with the Nikkei 225 down 2.3% and China's Shanghai Composite down 3.5%. Domestically the S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.5%. Telecoms and utilities were the top performing sectors, while a rebound in financials made the biggest contribution. Gold mining (GDX), U.S. small cap (IJR and IRU) and technology (TECH) ETFs were amongst the top performers for the week while Asian equities (CETF, IZZ and ISG) were amongst the biggest decliners. The U.S. dollar declined against most major currencies as Treasury yields fell. The Australian dollar ended the week higher at US74.30c and the euro advanced to US$1.17. The Chinese yuan declined for the fourth straight week.. Gold advanced 0.2% last week and gold miners rallied. WTI Crude declined 0.5%. . The broad Bloomberg Commodity Index dropped 1.4%. The Australian ETF market saw inflows of $83m into and outflows of $42m from domestically domiciled funds last week. The largest inflows were into equity ETFs including ETFS ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ROBO). The bulk of outflows were from BetaShares Australian High Interest Cash ETF (AAA).
Jul 02, 2018
ETFS Trade idea: US Defensive Equities Starting to Look Well Valued ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility ETF ASX Code: ZYUS U.S. market has been high growth since Trump’s election This cycle looks like it may be turning Investors wanting to retain U.S. exposure but remove the high growth/high volatility companies should look at ZYUS In this week’s ETFS Trade idea, we look at opportunities in defensive U.S. equities and show how it may be a good entry point for ZYUS, which under performed the broader market in 2017, but has picked-up in recent months and had standout performance in 2016. ZYUS tracks the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index, which selects a portfolio of the lowest volatility stocks from amongst the highest yielding names in the S&P 500. The story in 2017 - defensives appeared to be out of favour For most of 2017 the U.S. economy was in expansionary territory with GDP growth rising above 4%, the S&P 500 returning 22%, volatility remaining persistently low and normalisation of monetary policy accelerating. Information technology stocks dominated, returning 39%, but other traditional growth sectors also outperformed. Materials, consumer discretionary and financials all beat the benchmark. Defensive sectors, which traditionally include utilities, consumer staples, health care and real estate, on the other hand, suffered on two fronts. Firstly, the economic conditions of a growing economy and rising interest rates were not conducive to above-market performance in sectors such as utilities, consumer staples and telecommunications. Secondly, many companies in these sectors had become over-bought and over-valued in the post-crisis scramble for stable returns and yield, where low volatility and equity-yield strategies gained significant popularity. With rates rising and bonds starting to look more attractive, asset allocations shifted causing under-performance in defensives in 2017 and into early 2018. What has happened so far in 2018? 2018-to-date has seen the U.S. move further into expansionary territory, with GDP growth now sitting at 4.7% and the Federal Reserve having raised rates twice so far. However, signs of the expansionary cycle moving into a later phase have started to appear in recent months. Long-term bond yields have stabilised, inflation has picked-up and the S&P 500 has returned only 2.6% year-to-date. In addition, through a combination of geo-political and economic events, volatility has returned, with the VIX peaking at 37.3 in February and averaging 16.3 in 2018 compared to a maximum of 16.0 and an average of 11.1 for the whole of 2017. Defensives are currently looking more attractive on a valuations basis than at any time in recent years. On a relative-PE basis, utilities, consumer staples, telecommunications and health care sectors are all currently trading at lower multiples than the S&P 500. Even if the bull market still has further to run, now could be a good opportunity to re-allocate back towards defensive sectors. While the economy is not yet showing any signs of slowing, if you believe the U.S. is currently in a late-cycle boom, then it may be prudent to prepare for a sell-off in risky-assets. How does ZYUS’s sector allocation look? As can be seen in Chart 1, ZYUS is currently most overweight real estate and utilities along with smaller over-allocations to consumer staples, energy and telecoms. Information technology, health care and financials are the biggest under-weights. Overall, relative to the S&P 500, ZYUS is 34% overweight to the traditional defensive sectors, despite being 10% underweight health care, which is no longer considered to be as defensive as it once was. How has ZYUS performed relative to the S&P 500? In 2017 ZYUS underperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 9.6% as technology stocks accelerated away. This continued into early 2018 with ZYUS under-performing heavily in both January and February as the sell-off in defensives picked-up pace. This contrasts with 2016, where ZYUS outperformed by 8.8% . Monthly performance differentials are shown in Chart 3, below. Since the end of February, however, ZYUS has outperformed in three of the four months and added 4.7% to the S&P 500 on an AUD total return basis. Volatility-wise, on a 90-day historic basis, the spread between the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index is currently at its lowest since 2012, as shown in Chart 3. Recently the low volatility screening is providing a degree of risk-reduction even in a more concentrated, 50-stock portfolio. On a yield basis, the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index is currently yielding 4.3%, which is more than double the yield on the S&P 500 at 1.9%. Lastly, it is worth recalling that, despite the recent under performance, the low volatility/high dividend strategy has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 6% pa since the beginning of 2000, which demonstrates its ability to outperform across cycles. How ZYUS invests ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility ETF (ZYUS) follows a rules-based strategy, tracking its benchmark Index, and has the following features: ZYUS captures the performance of a selection of the high yielding companies from the S&P 500 Index and aims to provide stable returns with regular income. ZYUS selects the 50 lowest volatility names from a list of the 75 highest yielding stocks at each rebalance. ZYUS is rebalanced semi-annually in January and July. ZYUS is weighted in proportion to the dividend yield of each constituent, meaning that the stocks with the highest yields receive the highest weightings. ZYUS applies individual stock and sector caps to ensure diversification. ZYUS has an MER of 0.35% p.a. ZYUS has a Recommended rating by Lonsec. Summary While low volatility and defensive sector strategies have underperformed over the past 12 to 18 months, with the U.S. possibly moving towards the latter stages of the current economic cycle, it could be a good time to revisit these strategies. ZYUS provides a generally more defensive sector allocation than the broader market, uses a low-volatility screening and produces a consistently higher yield.
Jun 29, 2018
Global equity markets declined last week on global growth expectations. The S&P 500 dropped 1.3%, led lower by technology stocks. The EURO STOXX 50 declined by 1.3% and the Nikkei 225 fell by 0.9%. China's Shanghai Composite continued its recent decline, having now dropped over 22% from its January peak. Domestically the S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.5% as gains in materials and energy stocks mostly offset declines in the financial and health care sectors. Australian resources ETFs (QRE and OZR) were among the top performers for the week, while VanEck Vectors ChinaAMC A-Share ETF (CETF) and ETFS Morningstar Global Technology ETF (TECH) were amongst the biggest decliners. Bond yields declined and the U.S. dollar strengthened last week. The Australian dollar ended the week lower at US74.05c, having dropped as far as US73.24c mid-week. The Chinese renminbi declined by 1.8% against the U.S. dollar. Oil prices rallied strongly on expectation of reduced supply. WTI crude gained 8.1% to end the week at US$74.15/bbl. Precious metals declined across the board, with gold down 1.4% and silver down 2.1%. The Australian ETF market saw inflows of $100m into and outflows of $82m from domestically domiciled funds last week. The largest inflows were into BetaShares Australian Sustainability Leaders ETF (FAIR). The largest outflows were from SPDS S&P/ASX 200 Fund (STW) and SPDR MSCI Australia Select High Dividend Yield Fund (SYI).