- Global financial markets started the year strong but gave back the gains and turned negative year-to-date due to increased global concerns on the coronavirus outbreak. The developed and emerging market equity index (MSCI ACWI IMI) decreased -8.08% in February and -9.09% YTD. The S&P 500, which tracks large cap U.S. stocks, was down -8.23% in February and -8.27% YTD. The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks domestic small cap stocks decreased -8.42% in February and -11.36% YTD. The International developed equity index (MSCI EAFE), decreased -9.04% in February and –10.94% YTD. The emerging markets index (MSCI EM) decreased -5.27% in February and –9.69% YTD.
- In February, longer-term bond yields decreased, and prices increased; the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield decreased by 34 bps to 1.65%, the 10-year yield decreased by 38 bps to 1.13%, and the 5-year yield decreased by 43 bps to 0.89%.
- The Barclays Aggregate Index, which is a measure of U.S. Bond prices, increased 1.80% for February and 3.76% YTD.
ECONOMIC AND GEOPOLITICAL HEADLINES
- U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2019 increased 2.1%, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Third quarter 2019 GDP increased 2.1%.
- The February Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increased to 57.3% from 55.5% in January as growth increased at a slightly higher rate. This was above expectations of 54.9%. The February Manufacturing PMI decreased to 50.1% from January’s 50.9%. Per the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), a reading above 50 is considered economic expansion.
- February non-farm employment increased by 273,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.5%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on March 6, 2020. Notable job gains occurred in health care and social assistance, food services, government, professional, and financial activities. Average Hourly Earnings (wages) increased 3.0% year-over-year.
FUND PERFORMANCE UPDATES
- In February, the Equity Fund decreased by -7.97%, and is down -10.09% YTD. The International Equity Fund decreased -7.52% and is down -10.97% YTD. The Small Cap Equity Fund decreased by -8.44%, and is down -10.37% YTD. The Fixed Income Fund increased by 1.42%, and is up 3.28% YTD.
- All UCF equity managers had negative absolute returns, and relative returns were mixed in February. Managers that outperformed included Fiduciary, BlackRock, Baillie Gifford, and RBC, while QMA, Westfield, DFA and LSV underperformed.
- All Balanced Funds were behind their respective benchmarks. The Moderate Balanced Fund, UCF’s most popular fund, decreased -4.35% in February, and -5.14% YTD. The Aggressive Balanced Fund was down -5.84%, and -7.21% YTD. The Conservative Balanced Fund was down -2.05% in February, and -1.85% YTD. The Alternatives Balanced Fund was down -3.88%, and -4.28% YTD. Finally, the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund decreased by -4.07% in February, and -4.30% YTD.