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Major Asset Classes September 2023 Performance Review

Commodities and cash continued to top the monthly performance tables in September for the major asset classes. Also on display for a second straight month: widespread losses elsewhere for global markets, based on a set of ETF proxies.

The iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust (GSG) was last month’s return leader, rising 3.7% — the fund’s fourth consecutive monthly advance. The gain strengthened GSG’s year-to-date performance to third place — only US stocks (VTI) and developed markets equities ex-US (VEA) are posting bigger gains so far in 2023.

Cash remained a strong relative performer in September, courtesy of the accumulated rise in interest rates in recent history. The iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF (SHV), a cash proxy that holds US Treasuries with maturities of no more than 1 year, edged up 0.4% last month and is higher by 3.5% year to date — the fifth-highest return in 2023 for the major asset classes.

Reflecting the weak trend of late for most risk assets, the Global Market Index (GMI) fell for a second month in September, losing 4.2% — the steepest drop in a year. This unmanaged benchmark (maintained by CapitalSpectator.com) holds all the major asset classes (except cash) in market-value weights and represents a competitive benchmark for multi-asset-class portfolios. Despite the latest declines, GMI is still posting a solid 7.5% year to date gain – ahead of all its component markets except for the 12.4% year-to-date gain for US shares (VTI).

GMI’s performance over the past year has echoed the rise (and more recent fall) in US stocks (VTI). US bonds (BND), by comparison, are now flat over the past year.