Last Week's Contradictory ETF Asset Class Winners

Emerging-markets equities enjoyed a solid rise last week among the major asset classes, based on a set of proxy ETFs. Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock (VWO) posted a solid 4.5% total return for the five days of trading through Nov. 20, edging out the number-two performer for the week, US real estate investment trusts (REITS), based on Vanguard REIT (VNQ).

Last week’s boost for emerging-markets stocks inspires hope that a turnaround for this long-battered sector may be unfolding. Perhaps, but there are still formidable head winds to consider. “Emerging markets are under pressure as the US raising interest rates in December is a done deal,” Kenix Lai, a foreign-exchange analyst at Bank of East Asia, tells Bloomberg. “The dollar will get stronger while China’s economic fundamentals haven’t shown any signs of improvement.”

Meanwhile, momentum for stocks in emerging markets overall for a US-dollar-based investor continues to reflect a bearish hue. Although last week’s rally pushed VWO slightly above its 50-day moving average, the 50-day average remains well below its 200-day counterpart. Valuation metrics for this slice of the world’s equity markets may look attractive, but it’s not obvious that a sustained rally is currently underway.

Meanwhile, the bear market in commodities generally rolls on, which is another factor weighing on emerging markets that rely on firm pricing for raw-materials exports. The broadly defined iPath Bloomberg Commodity ETN (DJP) slumped again last week, dipping 1.7%–the biggest weekly loser among the major asset classes.