- Global financial markets started the year strong but gave back the gains towards the end of month due to the coronavirus outbreak in China. The developed and emerging market equity index (MSCI ACWI IMI), decreased -1.10% in January and YTD. The S&P 500, which tracks large cap U.S. stocks, was down -0.04% in January and YTD. The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks domestic small cap stocks decreased -3.21% in January and YTD. The International developed equity index (MSCI EAFE), decreased -2.09% in January and YTD. The emerging markets index (MSCI EM) decreased -4.66% in January and YTD.
- In January, longer-term bond yields decreased, and prices increased; the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield decreased by 40 bps to 1.99%, the 10-year yield decreased by 41 bps to 1.51%, and the 5-year yield decreased by 37 bps to 1.32%.
- The Barclays Aggregate Index, which is a measure of U.S. Bond prices, increased 1.92% for January and YTD.
ECONOMIC AND GEOPOLITICAL HEADLINES
- U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2019 increased 2.1%, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Third quarter 2019 GDP increased 2.1%.
- The January Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increased to 55.5% from 54.9% in December as growth increased at a slightly higher rate. This was above expectations of 55.1%. The January Manufacturing PMI increased to 50.9% from December’s 47.8%. Per the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), a reading above 50 is considered economic expansion.
- January non-farm employment increased by 225,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.6%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on February 7, 2020. Employment trended positively in construction, healthcare, transportation and warehousing. Average Hourly Earnings (wages) increased 3.1% year-over-year.
FUND PERFORMANCE UPDATES
- In January, the Equity Fund decreased by -2.30%. The International Equity Fund decreased -3.73%. The Small Cap Equity Fund decreased by -2.11%. The Fixed Income Fund increased 1.83%.
- Most UCF equity managers had negative absolute returns, and relative returns were mixed in January. Managers that outperformed included Westfield, Baillie Gifford and BlackRock, while RBC, QMA, Fiduciary, DFA and LSV underperformed.
- All Balanced Funds were behind their respective benchmarks. The Moderate Balanced Fund, UCF’s most popular fund, decreased -0.82% in January. The Aggressive Balanced Fund was down -1.45%. The Conservative Balanced Fund returned 0.21%. The Alternatives Balanced Fund was down -0.41%. Finally, the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund decreased by -0.24%.