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Monthly Market Commentary

May 2021 Market Commentary

By June 9, 2021June 3rd, 2022No Comments

Please find this month’s market updates below. This list is intentionally brief and uses ETFs that are readily available to all investors to represent the major markets. In the second section, there are five simple portfolio mixes, which are described by low-cost Vanguard ETFs. These can be used as a guide against which to compare your portfolio mix. We hope these few, but important, data points are of value to you.

– The AdvicePeriod Team

Monthly Market Review

By Nathan Sonnenberg
AdvicePeriod Chief Investment Officer

The stock market eked out a small gain in May, as investors overcame inflation jitters to push the S&P 500 index to its fourth straight monthly advance.1 Early in the month, the S&P fell 4%, partly in response to a report that consumer inflation in April jumped 4.2% on an annualized basis — the biggest increase since 2008. But by the end of the month, the index had recovered to finish up 0.6% as investors focused on positive economic and earnings news.2

The total U.S. stock market (VTI) rose 0.46% in May. International equities (VEA) were up 3.58%, and emerging market equities (VWO) gained 1.70%. Bonds were up as well, as the total U.S. bond market (BND) rose 0.15% for the month, while municipal bonds (MUB) advanced by 0.35%.

Strong earnings have boosted confidence in stocks: Companies finished reporting first-quarter earnings during May, and those earnings were, on average, substantially better than expected.

Inflation concerns aside, the economic data for May were mostly positive. The U.S. added 559,000 jobs — a solid result even if it fell short of projections for 675,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate declined to 5.8% from April’s 6.1%. Many of those new jobs occurred in the leisure and hospitality industries, signaling that Americans, 51% of whom now have at least one vaccine shot and 42% of whom are fully vaccinated, are getting on with their lives.3

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta now projects that U.S. economic growth will hit 10.4% in the second quarter. If that’s the case, U.S. gross domestic product, a measure of the economy’s total output of goods and services, will reach its pre-pandemic level by the end of June.4

Early in the year, interest rates spiked, sending a shudder through the stock market. (Rising interest rates can cause selloffs in stocks by increasing bonds’ attractiveness.) But rates have moderated since then, and in March, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond declined for the first time this year, dropping to 1.58% from 1.63%.5 Interest rates may hover in that range for a time as the markets await more data about the jobs market, wage growth, and price inflation.

We can never predict the direction of interest rates, inflation, and the markets themselves with certainty. But risk and reward are two sides of a coin. The investments generally considered the safest, U.S. Treasuries, produce very little return; a risky stock can rise – or fall – more sharply. One key to help grow your wealth in the capital markets is to create a mix of investments sufficient to help you achieve your goals while mitigating risk.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your AdvicePeriod advisor if you’d like to discuss your investment portfolio or any other aspect of your financial life.

Does past performance matter?

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What You Pay For: The Percentage of Active Managers That Underperform Their Benchmarks

Trailing 10 Years Numbers As of December 31st, 2020 – S&P Spiva Scorecard

Percentage of US large-cap funds that underperformed their benchmarks

US large-cap benchmark:
S&P 500

Percentage of international funds that underperformed their benchmarks

International benchmark:
S&P International 700

Percentage of emerging market funds that underperformed their benchmarks

Emerging Markets benchmark:
S&P/IFCI Composite

The SPIVA Scorecard is a robust, widely-referenced research piece conducted and published by S&P DJI that compares actively managed funds against their appropriate benchmarks on a semiannual basis.

1. S&P 500 Monthly Returns,

2. Lucia Mutikana, ‘Pent-up demand, shortages fuel U.S inflation’,

3.See How Vaccinations Are Going in Your County and State’,

4. Ben Winck, ‘US GDP will exceed its pre-pandemic peak by the end of June, Atlanta Fed model says’,

5.10 Year Treasury Rate by Month’,