We have mentioned a number of times that China had experienced a very unpleasant “second-hand” tightening due to its peg to the dollar. Its trade competitiveness has suffered tremendously. With a weaker dollar the Chinese Yuan can re-gain some of its competitiveness while maintaining its peg to the dollar. A rare win-win in today’s convoluted world of finance.
For the third consecutive year (thus far), quantitative factors worked best within the Materials sector. Energy also saw success as the decline in oil hurt the same stocks as in 2014. Factors were least effective in Health Care and Telecom.
Among the various arguments put forward by those believing the recent decline is no more than a correction, the most difficult for us to address is the common claim that “there’s no recession on the horizon.”
Last year was a solid one for the Group Selection (GS) Score approach, with the Attractive list delivering a total return of +13.1%—more than 500 basis points above The Leuthold Group Universe average, which gained only +7.9%.
In early October 2014, we noted the momentum reversal of Low Quality stocks and a few signs of the likelihood of transitioning to another phase of the quality cycle. The official numbers of Q4 have confirmed this.
Six of the seven factor categories we track have turned in positive performance so far in 2014; Value is the exception. Lost in the numbers is that most of the value has come from the short quintiles, so it has been hard for managers to take advantage of this trend.