- Global financial markets were positive in October as strong employment, company earnings growth and another Fed rate cut offset slowing leading indicator signals. The S&P 500, which tracks large cap U.S. stocks, was up 2.17% in October and is up 23.16% Y-T-D. The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks domestic small cap stocks increased 2.63% in October and is up 17.18% Y-T-D. The International developed equity index (MSCI EAFE), increased 3.59% in October and is up 16.86% Y-T-D. The emerging markets index (MSCI EM) increased 4.22% in October and is up 10.35% Y-T-D.
- In October, longer-term bond yields increased, and prices decreased; the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield increased by 5 bps to 2.17%, the 10-year yield increased by 1 bps to 1.69%, and the 5-year yield decreased by 4 bps to 1.51%.
- The Barclays Aggregate Index, which is a measure of U.S. Bond prices, increased 0.30% for October and is up 8.85% Y-T-D.
ECONOMIC AND GEOPOLITICAL HEADLINES
- U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2019 increased 1.9%, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Second quarter 2019 GDP increased 2.0%.
- The October Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was 54.7% from 52.6% in September. This was above expectations of 53.5%. The October Manufacturing PMI increased to 48.3% from September’s 47.8%. Per the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), a reading above 50 is considered economic expansion.
- October non-farm employment increased by 128,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.6%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on November 1, 2019. Employment trended positively in food service and drinking places, social assistance, and financial activities. Average Hourly Earnings (wages) increased 3.0% year-over-year.
FUND PERFORMANCE UPDATES
- In October, the Total Equity Fund increased by 3.26% and is up 19.65% Y-T-D. The International Equity Fund increased 4.64% and is up 17.67% Y-T-D. The Small Cap Equity Fund increased by 2.90% and is up 22.88% Y-T-D. The Fixed Income Fund declined 0.15% and is up 8.68% Y-T-D.
- All UCF equity managers had positive absolute returns, and many had positive relative returns in October. For domestic large cap markets, Quantitative Management Associates (QMA) outperformed while Fiduciary underperformed their respective In domestic small cap markets, Westfield and BlackRock outperformed while DFA and Fiduciary underperformed their respective benchmarks. For international markets, both developed markets managers Baillie Gifford and LSV Asset Management outperformed while emerging markets manager RBC underperformed their respective benchmarks.
- All Balanced Funds were above their respective benchmarks except the BFF Balanced Fund. The Moderate Balanced Fund, UCF’s most popular fund, increased 2.04% and is up 14.42% Y-T-D. The Aggressive Balanced Fund was up 2.55% and is up 16.36% Y-T-D. The Conservative Balanced Fund returned 1.29% and is up 11.97% Y-T-D. The Alternatives Balanced Fund was up 1.96% and is up 13.64% Y-T-D. Finally, the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund increased by 1.60% and is up 12.88% Y-T-D.