as of March 31, 2019
Global stock markets posted strong returns for the quarter ended March 31, 2019. After a volatile end to 2018, markets rebounded as central banks turned more dovish and as tariff concerns eased amid the possibility of a U.S.-China trade agreement. All U.S. market sectors produced gains, and stocks outside the United States did too despite uncertainty over Brexit negotiations and slowing economic momentum. Energy stocks staged a turnaround from the preceding quarter as oil prices climbed steadily. Overall, developed markets outperformed emerging markets.
Fixed income markets, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index, returned 2.20% for the quarter. In January, the Federal Reserve indicated it was unlikely to raise interest rates in 2019, and further tariffs on Chinese imports were postponed as negotiations continued on a comprehensive trade deal. Despite concerns about Brexit, bonds outside the United States benefited in part from the European Central Bank’s announcement that it expected to hold rates steady in 2019.
U.S. bond market
- The overall U.S. fixed income market, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, returned 2.94% for the first quarter. Corporate bonds, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond Index, returned 5.14%, while U.S. Treasuries, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Treasury Index, returned 2.11%.
- The yield of the benchmark 10-year Treasury note closed March at 2.41%, down from 2.74% a year earlier.
U.S. stock market
- The CRSP US Total Market Index, the benchmark for Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, returned 14.06% for the quarter and 8.82% for the 12 months ended March 31. For the quarter, all of the fund’s industry sectors advanced, with technology, industrials, and financials contributing the most. For the 12 months, eight sectors advanced, with only basic materials and oil and gas losing ground.
- Money market yields continued to rise. Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund’s average weighted maturity on March 31 was 45 days. The fund maintained its high-quality portfolio and continued to benefit from broad diversification and low fees.
International stock market
- Stocks outside the United States, while underperforming their U.S. counterparts, also advanced over the first quarter. Emerging markets performed best (up 11.25%, as measured by the Spliced Emerging Markets Index), followed by Europe. Stocks in the Pacific region were the weakest but still returned 8.08% for the quarter. For the 12 months ended March 31, non-U.S. stocks, as measured by the Spliced Total International Stock Index, returned –4.81%.