February was the 4th consecutive month in which stocks declined and in many cases continued their presence in bear market territory.
Having been through one of the worst Januarys in the post-Lehman era, February offered some stability in selected asset classes although for most parts risky assets in DM are still down on the month.
Oil was largely flat in February and has been mostly trading inside the $30-$35/bbl range for the past month.
That perhaps gave the EM complex some breathing space with the likes of Bovespa and EM bonds actually up on the month.
Net net year to date performances are still negative for most key risk benchmarks while core rates and precious metals are some of the standout performers to date.
Taking a closer look at the month and starting with equities, the DAX and Stoxx 600 were 2-3% lower on a total returns basis whereas the S&P 500 finished the month basically unchanged.
EM, the MSCI EM equity benchmark is also flat on the month. Chinese equities was down almost 2% in February (after a late month reversal) which was still relatively speaking a much better showing versus the 23% decline in January.
The Shanghai Composite remains one of the biggest YTD underperformer in global asset classes.
In terms of fixed income, Treasuries, Gilts and Bunds were up around 1.0-1.5% in Feb which takes their total returns to date to low-to-mid single digits. Impressive given the low starting yield. Credit performance is somewhat more mixed but generally total returns for higher quality segments benefited from the rates rally.
In Commodities Gold (+11%), Sugar (+11%) and Silver (+5%) were the top performers.
In currencies JPY rallied nearly 8% against the Dollar on the back of safe-haven flows but generally the Dollar index is 1.4% lower on the month.
Over 70% Of Global PMIs Decline In February
As the below table shows, 28 regions have reported so far. Seven saw improvements in their manufacturing sectors in February, twenty recorded a weakening, and India was unchanged. This means that over 70% of the world saw manufacturing sentiment deteriorate in February compared to January.