Asset class returns for the second quarter were mixed. REITs and U.S. equities, particularly small value, outperformed. Developed international indices were down slightly and small caps underperformed in these markets. The value factor was negative in the U.S. as well as developed and emerging international markets. U.S. interest rates increased and the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 0.11% to end the quarter at 2.85%.
U.S. economic data still looks relatively strong and domestic demand is expected to generate continued growth, supported by a robust labor market and consumer confidence. Most analysts still expect two additional rate hikes this year and see trade uncertainties as the main macro risk. The ongoing trade disputes have been a source of episodic market volatility.
Euro-area data has softened somewhat, with previous tailwinds from a weak currency and low interest rates becoming less supportive. However, the consensus seems to be that this may prove temporary. Emerging markets' lagging performance is typical during periods of U.S. dollar strength, higher U.S. rates, and political uncertainty.
Many forecasters have pointed to late-cycle conditions, and questions often arise regarding the timing of risk reduction. We advocate for strategic portfolio design as the primary approach for managing risk. Attempting to time equity returns is rarely successful. At the risk of sounding repetitive, stay balanced, invest according to your risk tolerance and capacity, and stay the course.
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