The global economy may be facing a new round of trouble, but you wouldn't know it by looking at last month's returns for the major asset classes. The gains fell well short of June's rally, but there was no mistaking the across-the-board rise in asset prices in July.
Last month's big winner: commodities, as tracked by the DJ-UBS Commodity Index, which jumped 6.5% in July. At the opposite spectrum, the fractional loss for cash (3-month T-bills) was a loner among the red-ink club last month. The last time everything (save cash) moved higher: January 2012.
Drawing on the widespread strength, the Global Market Index posted a 1.2% total return in July, building on June's 2.9% increase. For the year through July 31, GMI is higher by 5.6%. If the positive momentum continues—a big "if"—GMI is on track for dispensing an above-average calendar year of performance by New Year's Eve.
But there's a long road between now and the end of the year. Any number of risks are lurking on the horizon, including the ongoing mess that bedevils the euro economies and the so-called fiscal cliff that threatens in the U.S. But for the moment, broad diversification across the major asset classes continues to deliver competitive if not superior gains. That's not surprising, as history reminds, although it's certainly reassuring at a time of heightened uncertainty.