Inflation shows signs of slowing, but has not been tamed just yet. And with the prospects of a grim earnings season, equity market volatility may spike. As market sentiment continues to swing, consider a blended factor approach to balance downside risks and upside potential.
This article was written with contributions from Federico Burroni. Federico is a Research Analyst on the SPDR Americas Research Team.
The S&P 500® Index continued on a positive trajectory, adding 2.7% last week. This reverses the trend from the end of 2022, when the index posted negative returns for three weeks in a row. Oil gained 8.3% last week.1 It has been buoyed by China easing COVID restrictions, which has improved the expectations for a demand recovery.
Eurozone unemployment remained at 6.5% in November, staying steady at October’s record low.2 In the UK, recession worries eased a bit as gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.1% in November. This beat economists’ expectations of a 0.2% contraction.
Despite speculation for a hawkish surprise, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) kept its negative rate at -0.10%, leaving interest rates negative for more than six years.
Some of the largest US banks kicked off earnings season last week as JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned of a modest deterioration in the macroeconomic outlook.
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index climbed to 64.6 in January — rising more than 8% since December to a nine-month high.3 On Wednesday, the US Census Bureau reported a slowdown in December retail sales, providing a glimpse of weaker spending trends over the holiday season.
The Producer Price Index (PPI), which tracks inflation from the perspective of manufacturers and wholesalers, decelerated to 6.2% year over year in December.4 Meanwhile, on an annual basis, headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 6.5% in December.5 This is the smallest year-over-year increase since October 2021.
While December CPI shows a further slowdown in inflation, it is still too early for the Federal Reserve to claim victory over inflation. Core CPI remains at 5.7%, well above its pre-pandemic average of 2%.6 And with earnings for the S&P 500 Index expected to drop 4.1% for Q4 2022,7 a grim earnings season may drive equity market volatility. As market sentiment continues to swing between hope and fear, investors are likely to seek a way to balance both downside risks and upside potential.
The SPDR® MSCI USA StrategicFactorsSM ETF (QUS) blends Value, Quality, and Low-volatility factors into a single strategy. Each factor has a role to play:
QUS Demonstrated Stronger Performance and Higher Sharpe Ratio
Since its inception, QUS ranks in the top 11% of Morningstar category peers based on annualized returns, and top 6% of peers based on Sharpe ratio.10 It has also displayed more upside capture than single-factor Low-volatility funds (93% versus 80%), while exhibiting 3.05% less max drawdown than broad equities.11
QUS Standard Performance as of December 31, 2022
1 Bloomberg Finance, L.P., as of January 13, 2023.
2 Eurostat, as of January 13, 2023.
3 University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, as of January 13, 2023.
4 Bloomberg Finance, L.P., as of January 18, 2023.
5 Bloomberg Finance, L.P., as of January 13, 2023.
6 Bloomberg Finance, L.P., as of January 13, 2023.
7 FactSet Earnings Insight, as of January 6, 2023.
8 Bloomberg Finance, L.P., as of December 31, 2022. US equities are represented by the S&P 500 Index. The forward 12-month P/E is 17.38. Forward 12-month P/E long-term average is 16.81 for the period December 31, 2002 through December 30, 2022.
9 Morningstar, as of December 31, 2022. Broader market represented by the S&P 500 Index. Max drawdown for QUS and S&P 500 Index is -21.76% and -23.87%, respectively.
10 Morningstar, for the period from May 1, 2015 through December 31, 2022. The percentile was prepared by State Street Global Advisors and based on actively and passively managed ETFs and mutual funds in the US Large Blend Morningstar category (oldest share class). Rankings are based on the annualized return of the funds in the category following the first full calendar month after QUS’s inception. QUS inception date: April 15, 2015. The total universe was 351 funds. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.
11 Morningstar, from May 1, 2015 through December 31, 2022. Monthly frequency of returns used. Single factor low volatility = MSCI USA Minimum Volatility Index. Broad equities = MSCI USA Index.
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The value style of investing that emphasizes undervalued companies with characteristics for improved valuations, which may never improve and may actually have lower returns than other styles of investing or the overall stock market.
Although subject to the risks of common stocks, low volatility stocks are seen as having a lower risk profile than the overall markets. However, a fund that invests in low volatility stocks may not produce investment exposure that has lower variability to changes in such stocks’ price levels.
A “quality” style of investing emphasizes companies with high returns ,stable earnings, and low financial leverage. This style of investing is subject to the risk that the past performance of these companies does not continue or that the returns on “quality” equity securities are less than returns on other styles of investing or the overall stock market.
Equity securities may fluctuate in value in response to the activities of individual companies and general market and economic conditions.
Passively managed funds invest by sampling the index, holding a range of securities that, in the aggregate, approximates the full Index in terms of key risk factors and other characteristics. This may cause the fund to experience tracking errors relative to performance of the index.
While the shares of ETFs are tradable on secondary markets, they may not readily trade in all market conditions and may trade at significant discounts in periods of market stress.
The Fund is classified as “diversified” under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”); however, the Fund may become “non-diversified,” as defined under the 1940 Act, solely as a result of tracking the Index (e.g., changes in weightings of one or more component securities). When the Fund is non-diversified, it may invest a relatively high percentage of its assets in a limited number of issuers.
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