- Joe Biden has been confirmed as the next U.S. President, after the state of Georgia concluded a second recount in favor of the Democrat. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s efforts to upend the election results through the courts has been dealt a blow largely due to lack of compelling evidence of fraud, as he has claimed publicly.
- OPEC and its ally Russia have reached a deal to cut oil production from 7.7 million barrels per day to 7.2 million barrels in January 2021. In addition, the sides agreed to meet every month, assess market conditions, and adjust production by not more than 0.5 million barrels per month after assessing market conditions.
- The coronavirus pandemic has eased in Europe as a raft of restrictions on the movement of people helped bring down the number of daily infections. Meanwhile, in the U.S., daily new cases continued to rise and reached a record high of more than 237,000. The U.S. continues to be the most hit country with 15 million total cases, followed by India with 9.7 million and Brazil with 6.6 million.
- The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, well below analysts’ expectations of around 480,000, and declining from 610,000 in the prior month. The low number is believed to be due to a host of shutdowns by states and local governments to keep down the spread of the virus. On the bright side, average hourly earnings rose 0.3% from 0.1% the prior month. The unemployment rate declined 20 basis points to 6.7%, outpacing forecasts of 6.8%.
- U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell from 59.3 to 57.5 in November, keeping in expansion territory for the sixth consecutive month. U.S. services PMI advanced from 57.7 to 58.4.
- U.S. unemployment claims continued to fall over the past two weeks but were still above 700,000 per week.
- Europe’s services PMI improved a bit in November but remained deep in contraction territory at 41.7. Italy, France, and Spain saw their PMI fall below 40, while the UK is very close to expansion mode at 47.6.
- We provide this report on a fortnightly basis. To stay up to date with mutual fund market events, come back to our news page here.
U.S. Broad Indices
- Broad markets continued to rise this week as investors cheered progress in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, with the UK being the world’s first developed nation starting to give shots to the most vulnerable people, such as healthcare workers and the elderly.
- Vanguard’s small-cap index fund (VSCIX) rose 5.33% over the past two weeks, comfortably outpacing its peers.
- The worst performance was recorded by Vanguard’s large-cap index fund (VFIAX), which rose just 4.06%.
- Fixed income assets posted a mixed performance.
- Vanguard’s investment-grade bonds fund (VWESX) was the worst performer this week, falling 1.31%.
- Vanguard’s high yield bonds fund (VWEHX) posted the strongest performance for the past two weeks, appreciating by 0.85%.
- Sectors were all up with the exception of utilities.
- Vanguard’s Financials sector fund (VFAIX) surged 6.5% these past two weeks, as many names in the sector look cheap after posting big losses.
- Franklin’s Utilities fund (FKUQX) lost a whopping 8.54% over the past two weeks, as investors shed safe assets in favor of riskier ones.
- Foreign equities were all up, with one exception.
- Fidelity’s China fund (FHKCX) lost 3.50% over the past two weeks, with the country’s stock market being the only loser from the pack.
- Fidelity’s Latin America fund (FLATX) again posted the best performance, advancing 9.7%.
- All alternative assets posted small gains these past two weeks.
- Vanguard’s real estate index fund (VGSLX) was the best performer, gaining more than 2% for the past two weeks, as investors started to consider the beaten-down sector.
- Cohen & Steers’ Preferred securities fund (CPXIX) was the weakest performer for the past two weeks, rising just 0.49%.
The Bottom Line
Be sure to sign up for your free newsletter here to receive the most relevant updates.
Fund returns between November 20 and December 4.