August was a rough month for the major asset classes, with one key exception: commodities. The DJ-UBS Commodity Index popped 3.4% last month. Otherwise, red ink was the dominant theme. In fact, positive performance has become scarce on a year-to-date basis as well. US stocks are still bucking the trend, however, with a strong 17% rise in 2013 through the end of last month, based on the Russell 3000. Meanwhile, the Global Market Index (GMI), a markets-weighted, unmanaged mix of all the major asset classes, retreated 1.6% in August, which trimmed its year-to-date gain to a middling 4.9%.
Any number of worries weigh on markets these days, including the on-again-off-again threat of US military strikes on Syria to anxiety about the Fed’s plans for the beginning of the end for monetary stimulus to questions about the economic outlook for emerging markets. Even so, let’s not forget that GMI's 4.9% year-to-date rise so far in 2013 still leaves room for a decent if not impressive calendar year performance. Assuming, of course, that markets can mount a respectable rebound in the remaining four months of 2013.