With the new year and new decade already here, the markets closed on one of the strongest years for the US equity market in the past decade. The S&P 500 (SPX) was up nearly 29% in 2019 – the second best year in the 2010s, only 2013’s return of just over 29% beat it. All broad sectors produce gains last year, with nine out of the 11 broad sector SPDR ETFs posting gains greater than 20%. The top three sectors, using SPDR ETFs as proxies, were technology (XLK), communication services (XLC, basically a technology ETF), and financials (XLF), returning 47.90%, 29.92%, and 29.22%, respectively. Energy (XLE), on the other hand, was the worst performing sector on the year with a return of just 4.69%. Energy has now been the worst performing sector in five out of the last six years.
As we have discussed previously, 2020 is likely to produce more gains! In fact, when the S&P 500 (SPX) had gains of 20% or more, which happened in 2003, 2009, and 2013 during the last two decades, the average return in the following years (2004, 2010, and 2014) was 11%.
As we move into 2020, we want to continue to overweight portfolios to favor the areas of leadership in the market highlighted above. With that said, the commodities market deserves attention in 2020. While crude oil has gained many investors’ attention recently, which is unsurprising given the activity in Iran, gold has been the more stable trend within the commodities/alternative space recently.