Market insights and analysis

How dynamic, risk-managed investment solutions are performing in the current market environment

3rd Quarter | 2021

Market insights and analysis

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Updates on how dynamic, risk-managed investment solutions are performing in the current market environment.

Equities rallied in the second quarter after a pandemic-related sell-off in the first quarter. About 84.6% of OnTarget Monitors for the quarter were “in the yellow” or better, with 70.4% “OnTarget” (“in the green”) or better (“in the blue”).

The technology-heavy NASDAQ led the pack, gaining more than 30% for the quarter. The Technology sector has continued to be the strongest performer for the year. Small caps gained over 25% for the quarter, and the S&P 500 was up over 20%. International developed stocks were the worst performers, but they still managed to gain 17%. This spread among the equity segments indicates a healthy global appetite for risk, which is a rapid turnaround from the fear seen in the markets in the first quarter.

Offensive sectors outperformed defensive sectors for the most part. Energy and Technology gained the most, both rising over 30%. Industrials lagged, up about 5.5% for the quarter. On the defensive side, Consumer Staples and Utilities gained 8.5% and 2.7%, respectively. Despite recent market focus and positivity, Health Care was up only 13.4% for the quarter. Though some segments of the Health Care sector have been up significantly on hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment, the pandemic’s effect on the sector has been negative overall, as the sector has underperformed the broad market.

The markets remain sensitive to negative economic and pandemic news, as evidenced by a minor sell-off at the beginning of June. But, overall, market sentiment and direction suggest that the market is more confident about the ability of the economy to survive the current situation either through easy money policy, health-care breakthroughs, or current pandemic statistics.

Safe-haven assets were mixed for the quarter. Gold rose about 13%, but long-term government bonds fell slightly. While often considered a safe-haven asset, gold can also be a protection against rising inflation, which may explain the difference in quarterly performance between the two most common safe-haven assets. Dramatic fiscal and monetary actions to prevent the pandemic from leading to a depression have caused concern that inflation could rise in the long term.

The yield curve changed significantly during the quarter. It started the quarter heavily inverted with three-month rates exceeding all other terms by a significant amount, over 1.4%. Since then, the curve has normalized somewhat, with some shorter-term yields exceeding longer-term yields. However, the curve does not appear to be as affected by fear or pessimism as it was during the beginning of the quarter.

The recent strong performance of equities led to quarterly gains in about 95% of our strategies. Our top performers were mostly aggressive equity strategies and aggressive strategies with access to the equity markets and leverage.

The top performers within our Strategic Solutions offerings included several of our Quantified Fee Credit (QFC) offerings. Our QFC Self-adjusting Trend Following strategy led the pack, gaining more than 27% for the quarter. The WP Aggressive and WP Growth strategies were close behind with gains of 24.99% and 24.89%, respectively. Our QFC Multi-Strategy Explore: Equity Trends strategy was up 22.71% for the quarter. The Market Leaders strategies also had a strong showing for the quarter.

 

 

 

It was a challenging market for alternative and fixed-income strategies. While significantly outperforming its benchmark, Fixed Income Tactical was down for the quarter. Our Volatility Adjusted NASDAQ strategy also struggled; high volatility did not equate to poor returns for the markets because the Fed artificially propped up markets.

QFC Fusion 2.0 posted solid performance, generally outperforming the traditional 60/40 balanced portfolio for the quarter and year to date after maximum fees. The non-QFC versions of the Fusion portfolios were mostly unchanged for the quarter, remaining in a defensive position after the first quarter’s downturn. These Fusion portfolios remain prepared should further market volatility materialize from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Multi-Strategy Core offerings, however, were up significantly for the quarter, with the strongest returns earned in the most aggressive strategies.

 

 

 



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