Global pandemics, bear markets, bull markets, countless records in economic data, and widespread protests made for an eventful first half of 2020, to say the least. In the table below we show the total return of various asset classes using key ETFs in June, Q2, and the first half of 2020. As shown, overall the best performing assets in June could be found outside the US as international stocks surged. Hong Kong (EWH) in particular was the best performing asset in June. Oil (USO) similarly saw solid returns of 8.42% during the month but remained the second-worst performing asset in Q2 behind Natural Gas (UNG) which was also the worst-performing asset in June. Additionally, oil was the worst-performing asset in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, although their returns were more muted in Q2 and June, Treasuries (namely at the long end of the curve) were some of the top performers in the first half. Precious metals similarly were strong performers in the first half with particular strength from silver (SLV) in Q2. Silver actually saw returns in line with cyclical equities in Q2.
In terms of the US equities space, the Tech heavy Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) drastically outperformed closing out June with a 16.91% gain in the first half. In Q2 and June, it was also the best performing major index by a wide margin. On a sector basis, Technology (XLK), Energy (XLE), and Consumer Discretionary (XLY) all rose over 30% in Q2 just like the Nasdaq did, though their first half and June returns were more modest with the exception of the Tech sector whose returns were more in line with that of the Nasdaq.
Investing based on market cap saw some interesting dynamics as well. Even though small caps are some of the major US indices down the most on the year—S&P 600 Small Caps (IJR) are down 17.89% and the Russell 2000 (IWM) is down 12.96% YTD—there was some catch up in June as these indices were some of the best performers. That applies to both growth and value names though small cap value (IJS) is still one of the most beaten-down groups in the US equities space. On the other hand, large-cap growth (IVW) offered the strongest returns in June, Q2, and the first half when compared to the various other style ETFs.
Outside of the US, even with big gains in June, countries like Brazil (EWZ), France (EWQ), Italy (EWI), and Spain (EWP) remain down big on the year. Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options for our best research available.