Following is a summary of the markets and our funds’ performance for the month of April 2018, provided by our Chief Investment Strategist David A. Klassen.
- In April, performance for global equity markets was mixed. There was little change in U.S. equities. The S&P 500, which tracks large cap U.S. stocks, increased 0.38% in April and is down 0.38% year to date (“Y-T-D”). The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks domestic small cap stocks, was up 0.86% and is up 0.78% Y-T-D. The international developed equity index (MSCI EAFE), the best performing index for the month was up 2.28% in April and is up 0.72% Y-T-D. The emerging markets index (MSCI EM) decreased 0.44% during April but is still up 0.97% Y-T-D.
- In April, interest rates rose across the board as the yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond increased 16bps to 3.13%, while the 10-year yield increased 21bps to 2.95%, and the 5-year yield increased 24bps to 2.80%.
- The Barclays Aggregate Index, a well-known index used to track the performance of U.S. investment grade bonds, decreased 0.74% in April and is down 2.19% Y-T-D.
ECONOMIC & GEOPOLITICAL HEADLINES
- U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2018 increased 2.3%, according to an “advanced” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Fourth quarter 2017 GDP increased 2.9%.
- The April Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 57.3, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the March reading of 59.3. Per the Institute for Supply Management, a reading above 50 is considered economic expansion, while a reading under 50 suggests contraction.
- In April, non-farm employment added 164,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9%, following six consecutive months at 4.1%. The March jobs number was revised up to 135,000. Average Hourly Earnings increased by 2.6% year-over-year. Monetary policy normalization, which is the Fed raising rates, is expected to stay on track.
- The Total Equity Fund was up 0.56% for April, but is down 0.10% Y-T-D. The International Equity Fund was up 0.78% for April, and its Y-T-D return is up 0.17%. The Small Cap Equity Fund was up 0.02% for April and Y-T-D is up 0.41%. In April, net of fees, the Fixed Income Fund was down 0.69%, and its Y-T-D return is -1.45%.
- UCF equity managers’ performance were mixed relative to their respective benchmarks for April. International developed manager LSV outperformed its benchmark for April, while Baillie Gifford lagged its benchmark. Emerging markets manager Oaktree lagged its benchmark for April. Domestic Core equity manager State Street outperformed, while QMA and FMI underperformed their benchmark for April. All small cap managers underperformed their respective benchmarks in April.
- The Moderate Balanced Fund, in April, was up 0.10%, but is down -0.67% Y-T-D. The Aggressive Balanced Fund was up 0.27% in April, and has a return of -0.50% Y-T-D. The Conservative Balanced Fund was down 0.21 in April, and is down 0.99% Y-T-D. The Alternatives Balanced Fund was up 0.69% in April, and is up 0.19% Y-T-D. The Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund was down 0.16% for April, and is down 1.07% Y-T-D.