Yesterday I briefly discussed the broad economic indicators for the second quarter so today I want to go into a bit more detail and take a look at the overall performance and trends of the equity and bond markets.
Capital Markets Review
Virtually all major stock market indices ended the second quarter with strong positive returns. In the U.S. market the tech heavy NASDAQ had the best returns. With the continuing slide of the U.S. dollar the international equity market has outperformed the domestic counterparts for the first half of the year with a gain of more than 11%. On a more long term basis the recent trend for all asset classes has been strongly positive, although the 10-year returns are still hindered by the bear market.
Bond Market Review
The bond markets weakened in response to inflationary signals and the subprime mortgage market. Most bond returns ended slightly lower for the quarter, reflecting some of the turbulence and challenges faced by fixed income investments and higher interest rates overall. One bright spot in bonds were the lower quality high yield bonds which ended the quarter in positive territory.
Source: High Yield returns reflect the Merrill Lynch Master II High Yield Index. Total Bonds is represented by the LB Aggregate Bond Indes. All others reflect Lehman Brothers indicies.
Equity Market Review
Even with conflicting signals about the overall economy and inflation most of the major stock market indices ended the second quarter with strong positive returns. Large-cap stocks outpaced both mid and small-cap stocks for the quarter. An interesting trend has emerged during this period that shows regardless of market capitalization, growth re-emerged as a leading investment style over value for the first time in years.
Looking at the chart below you can begin to see that as we move toward the second quarter the margin between growth and value has diminished and YTD and in the second quarter especially we see growth stocks performing better. I have discussed the possible reversal from value to growth in the past and while it is still too early to tell, this could be the sign that it is indeed beginning to take place.
The indexes used to represent each investment style are as follows: Large Value: Russell 1000 Value Index; Large Growth: Russell 1000 Growth Index; Mid Value: Russell Mid cap Value; Mid Growth: Russell Mid Cap Growth; Small Value: Russell 2000 Value; Small Growth: Russell 2000 Growth; International: MSCI World Ex-US.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.