Below is a final look at 2018 total returns across asset classes using our ETF matrix. For each ETF, we show its December, Q4, and full year 2018 total return.
The S&P 500 (SPY) finished 2018 down 4.56% on a total return basis after falling 13.52% in Q4 and 8.79% in December. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) fell 0.12% on the year after dropping 16.73% in Q4. The small-cap Russell 2,000 (IWM) fell 11.11% on the year, while mid-caps (IJH) fell just a bit more at -11.18%. The Russell 2,000 was down more than 20% in Q4 alone.
Looking at sectors, Health Care (XLV) ended up performing the best in 2018 with a total return of +6.28%. Energy (XLE) was the biggest loser with a decline of 18.21%.
Outside of the US, China (ASHR) fell the most in 2018 with a drop of 28.44%. Germany (EWG) was the only other country in our matrix that fell more than 20% on the year. Brazil (EWZ) did the best with a decline of just 2.57% after rallying 14.98% in Q4.
The commodities ETF (DBC) was down 11.62% in 2018 due to oil’s drop of 19.57%. In Q4 alone, the oil ETF (USO) fell 37.76%. Precious metals helped counter oil’s Q4 declines by gaining 5%+. The gold ETF (GLD) was up 7.53% in Q4, which left it down 1.94% on the year.
Finally, Treasury ETFs rallied nicely in December and over the entire fourth quarter, but the “Total Bond Market” ETF (BND) still finished the year slightly in the red at -0.11%. The “Aggregate Bond” ETF (AGG) finished just barely in positive territory at +0.10%. The popular 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TLT) rose 5.85% in December, but it was still down 1.61% for the full year on a total return basis.