- Global equity markets were mostly positive in April except for emerging markets and small cap stocks in the U.S., as inflation ticked down but concerns around a recession and the Federal Reserve’s next move remained. The global equity index (MSCI ACWI IMI) increased +1.44% in April and was up +8.85% YTD. The S&P 500, which tracks large cap U.S. stocks, increased +1.56% in April and was up +9.17% YTD. The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks domestic small cap stocks decreased -1.80% in April and was up +0.89% YTD. The international developed equity index (MSCI EAFE) increased +2.82% in April and was up +11.53% YTD. The emerging markets index (MSCI EM) decreased -1.13% in April and was up +2.78% YTD.
- In April, bond yields were either flat or marginally decreased while exhibiting intra-month volatility: the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield remained unchanged at 3.67%, the 10-year yield decreased -4 bps to 3.44%, and the 2-year yield decreased –2 bps to 4.04%.
- The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index, which is a measure of U.S. bond prices, increased +0.61% in April and was up +3.59%
ECONOMIC AND GEOPOLITICAL HEADLINES
- U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2023 increased +1.1%, according to the “Advanced” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2022, GDP increased +2.6%.
- The April Services PMI (formerly Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index) marginally increased to 51.90% from 51.20% in March, representing expansion territory and slightly higher than market expectations of 51.80%. The April Manufacturing PMI slightly increased to 47.10% from March’s 46.30%. Per the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), a reading above 50 is considered economic expansion and below 50 is considered economic contraction.
- April non-farm employment increased by 253,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate decreased to 3.4%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 5. In April, employment increased in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality and social assistance. Average Hourly Earnings (wages) increased +4.4% year-over-year in April.
- The Total Equity Fund increased +0.85% in April and was up +7.93% YTD. The International Equity Fund increased +1.14% in April and was up 8.53% YTD. The Small Cap Equity Fund decreased -1.97% in April and was up 2.15% YTD. The Fixed Income Fund increased +0.59% in April and was up 3.61% YTD.
- Equity managers’ performance was mixed during the month, and the managers that outperformed their respective benchmarks were Xponance, Westfield, Channing, LSV and RBC; whereas the managers that underperformed were PGIM’s quantitative strategies, Blackrock and Ballie Gifford.
- The UCF Balanced Fund, UCF’s most popular fund, underperformed its benchmark, returning 0.73% in April, and was up +6.07% YTD. The Alternatives Balanced Fund increased +0.83% in April and was up +4.43% YTD. Finally, the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund underperformed its benchmark, returning 0.43% in April, and is up 5.79% YTD.