Following is a summary of the markets and our funds’ performance for the month of April 2019, provided by our Chief Investment Strategist David A. Klassen.
- Global financial markets continued the strength of the first quarter. The S&P 500, which tracks large cap U.S. stocks, was up 4.05% in April and is up 18.25% Y-T-D. The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks domestic small cap stocks increased 3.40% in April and is up 18.48% Y-T-D. The International developed equity index (MSCI EAFE), increased 2.81% in April and is up 13.07% Y-T-D. The emerging markets index (MSCI EM) increased 2.11% in April and is up 12.23% Y-T-D.
- In April, bond yields increased, and prices decreased; the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield increased 12bps to 2.93%, while the 10-year yield increased 10bps to 2.51%, and the 5-year yield increased 5bps to 2.28%.
- The Barclays Aggregate Index, which is a measure of U.S. Bond prices, increased 0.03% for April and is up 2.97% Y-T-D.
ECONOMIC AND GEOPOLITICAL HEADLINES
- U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2019 increased 3.2%, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Fourth quarter 2018 GDP increased 2.2%.
- The April Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered to 52.6, from a preliminary of 52.4. Per the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), a reading above 50 is considered economic expansion.
- April non-farm employment increased by 263,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 3rd. Notable gains came from professional and business services, construction, health care, and social assistance. Average Hourly Earnings (wages) increased 3.2% year-over-year. Payroll number for February were revised up by 23,000 and March were revised down by 7,000 versus what was previously reported. After revisions, job gains over the past three months averaged 169,000.
FUND PERFORMANCE UPDATES
- In April, the Total Equity Fund increased 4.25% and is up 17.06% Y-T-D. The International Equity Fund was up 4.20% and is up 15.76% Y-T-D. The Small Cap Equity Fund increased 4.17% and is up 22.56% Y-T-D. The Fixed Income Fund was up 0.22% and is up 3.78% Y-T-D.
- Most UCF equity managers had positive absolute and relative returns in April. For international markets, developed manager Baillie Gifford and emerging markets manager The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) outperformed while LSV Asset Management underperformed their respective benchmarks. All domestic large cap equity managers outperformed their respective benchmarks. All small cap managers outperformed their benchmarks, with significant outperformance by Fiduciary.
- All Balanced Funds except the BFF Balanced Fund had both positive absolute and relative returns for April. The Moderate Balanced Fund, UCF’s most popular fund, increased 2.59% and is up 11.14% Y-T-D. The Aggressive Balanced Fund was up 3.29% and is up 13.44% Y-T-D. The Conservative Balanced Fund returned 1.62% and is up 8.04% Y-T-D. The Alternatives Balanced Fund was up 3.00% and is up 10.62% Y-T-D. Finally, the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund increased 1.55% and is up 10.16% Y-T-D.