It may sound hard to believe but with April now in the history books, the year 2017 is already a third complete. In the chart below, we have summarized the returns of various asset classes in the ETF universe spanning equities (both domestic and international), currencies, fixed income, and commodities on a total return basis in US dollar terms. Given the sheer number of ETFs included in this analysis, it may be hard to read some of the labels, but if you click on the image it should enlarge. For some perspective on how US equities stacked up versus everything else, the returns of the eight major US indices are all highlighted in gray.
Overall, April was generally a positive month as just 12 of the 58 ETFs highlighted posted negative total returns. Leading the world higher, French equities surged 5.7% on a relief rally coming after the first round of elections late in the month. Behind France, The US Telecom ETF and the Spanish equity market were the only other two ETFs up more than 5% in April. German equities also saw nice gains during the month, rallying 3.2%. German manufacturers have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the entire Euro system, so the results of the French election were a positive for German equities as well.
On the downside, commodities were weak in April as Silver (SLV) dropped 5.5%, followed by Oil (USO) and the S&P 500 Energy sector ETF (XLE). The only other ETFs down more than 1% were the Commodities ETF (RBC), Canadian equities (EWC), which are commodity focused, and China A-Shares (ASHR).
In terms of US market returns, the Nasdaq 100 ETF (QQQ) was the best performing of the major US averages, rising 2.7%. Of the remaining seven major US indices, returns were all ‘middle of the road’ and bunched in a range of 0.8% to 1.4%. In April at least, leadership came from outside of the US.