How Every Asset Class, Currency, and S&P 500 Sector Performed in 2020
Corresponding assets in the graphic top to bottom were measured using: XAGUSD, XAUUSD, Russell 2000, S&P 500, MSCI EM, Bloomberg Barclays Corporate Bonds Index, MSCI EAFE, iShares Trust US Treasury Bond ETF, S&P/TSX Composite, S&P GSCI, DXY, Dow Jones Real Estate Index, WTI U.S. Oil.
How Every Market Performed in 2020
It has been a volatile year for financial markets and their participants, with some of the largest price fluctuations imaginable across just about every single asset.
Despite the volatility, the combination of the Federal Reserve’s early stimulus interventions and positive vaccine news has rewarded dip-buyers and strong hands.
Along with visualizing the returns across asset classes, currencies, and S&P 500 sectors, we’ve included their maximum drawdown for the year—the drop from the 2020 open to the 2020 lows—along with the recovery from 2020 lows to the closing price.
This helps visualize 2020’s most resilient assets, along with the strength of their recovery.
Markets Roundup for 2020
Of all the major asset classes, precious metals provided the best returns last year.
- Gold finished the year up 24.6%, but down from its all-time highs of $2,075/oz achieved on August 7th.
- Gold was also a resilient asset. Thanks to its strong start in January (4.8%), when March came around gold held up and only fell 4.4% below the yearly open.
- Silver’s performance over the year was also sterling, offering investors 47.4% returns despite a -34.7% pullback in March.
Here’s a look at how all major asset classes performed over the course of the year:
|Asset Class||2020 Return||Asset Type|
|U.S. Small Caps||18.5%||Equities|
|U.S. Corporate Bonds||9.7%||Bonds|
|Europe, Australia, Far East||5.1%||Equities|
|U.S. Real Estate||-8.4%||Real Estate|
U.S. equities and emerging market equities had double-digit returns despite the tumultuous year. Small cap stocks in the Russell 2000 outpaced the S&P 500 by 3%, but also saw a steeper drawdown during times of volatility.
Although there were some wild drawdowns in 2020, nothing compared to the drop into negative prices for WTI crude oil that occurred in April. Futures traded all the way down to -$37.63 a barrel when travel cancellations brought oil demand to a standstill and supply cut agreements weren’t reached by OPEC members.
U.S. government and corporate bonds had a positive year, however their returns were primarily driven by support from the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and market operations. The Federal Reserve increased its portfolio of Treasury notes and bonds by 79% since March, with its total assets reaching $7.3 trillion at the end of 2020.
Performance by S&P 500 Sector
Unsurprisingly, the energy sector was hit the hardest last year, with value sectors generally struggling to perform compared to growth sectors.
Information technology continued to outperform like in 2019, with Amazon (76%), Apple (81%), and Netflix (66%) the three best performing FAANG members. Other tech stocks like Nvidia (121%), Paypal (115%), and AMD (100%) comfortably sailed to new all-time highs with triple-digit returns for 2020.
As the communication services (21.3%) and consumer discretionary (32%) sectors also performed well, the latter saw the biggest bounce from the lows of any S&P 500 sector (96%).
Foreign Exchange Performance in 2020
Early on in the year, major currencies generally followed similar patterns as they all fell against the U.S. dollar in March’s flight to safety.
The Swiss franc was one of the most resilient currencies, drawing down only -2.1% from the 2020 open. It was also one of the best performers at the end of the year alongside the euro and Australian dollar with gains of 9% or more.
Timing the dip on the Australian or New Zealand dollar was the most rewarding opportunity for forex traders last year. Meanwhile, the Indian rupee, Mexican peso, and Russian ruble weren’t able to claw back the points they lost in March, with the ruble seeing double-digit losses.
All eyes have been on the U.S. dollar’s free-fall downwards since it spiked up in March, and as the Biden administration prepares to take office, speculative traders have returned to selling dollars.
Winners and Losers of 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic largely defined many of the winners and losers of 2020, as did the Federal Reserve’s expansion of the U.S. money supply.
Zoom became an essential communications service in lockdown and Moderna and Novavax shares skyrocketed in valuation as they announced their COVID-19 vaccines.
Bitcoin broke well beyond its previous all-time high, returning just over 300% from the 2020 open and more than 650% from the lows. Tesla had an even more spectacular run, returning 745% and making Elon Musk the second-richest man in the world.
Meanwhile, as global travel quickly came to a halt last year, Carnival Corporation (the world’s biggest cruise operator) and Air Canada suffered double-digit losses along with WTI crude oil and much of the energy sector and travel industry.
Vaccine rollouts and the U.S. stimulus bill are the current known-unknowns that the market is pricing in for this upcoming year, and investors will be watching to see if the dollar’s downturn will be reversed, or if the world’s major reserve currency will continue to decline in 2021.
Graphene: An Investor’s Guide to the Emerging Market
The market value of graphene could reach $3.75 billion by 2030. As the emerging industry shows fast growth, it also faces obstacles.
Graphene: An Investor’s Guide to the Emerging Market
Graphene is an atomic-scale “honeycomb” that is revolutionizing the world of materials and capturing investor attention.
Experts predict that its market value could reach the billion-dollar threshold by 2027 and soar to a staggering $3.75 billion by 2030.
In this infographic sponsored by HydroGraph, we dive into everything investors need to know about this exciting industry and where it’s headed.
Graphene possesses several unique physical properties which contribute to its wide range of potential applications.
- 200 times stronger than steel
- Harder than diamonds
- 1,000 times lighter than paper
- 98% transparent
- Higher electrical conductivity than copper
- Heat conductivity: 5 times that of copper
- 2,630 m² of surface area per gram
Since its first successful isolation in 2004, graphene’s properties have opened the doors to a multitude of commercial applications and products.
Applications of Graphene
Graphene has permeated numerous sectors like electronics, energy, and healthcare because of its impressive array of end uses.
|Industry||Revenue CAGR of Graphene Across Industries, 2022-2027|
|Biomedical and Healthcare||52%|
|Electronics and Telecommunications||34%|
|Aerospace and Defense||16%|
|Other End-User Industries||17%|
Graphene’s antibacterial properties make it highly suitable for medical instruments and implants. Furthermore, it has shown remarkable potential in helping treat diseases such as cancer.
Another one of the material’s applications is its ability to emit high-speed light pulses, or to combine graphene’s thinness and high-conductivity to create the tiniest possible light sources.
All in all, it’s difficult to sum up graphene’s properties and potential applications in one place. The supermaterial has been covered and cited in thousands of academic journals, and comes up with over 2 million search results on Google Scholar.
Graphene has evolved from a scientific breakthrough to a commercial reality in less than two decades, putting it firmly on the radar of many future-focused investors.
But despite the strides the industry is making, it is still in its infancy, and therefore challenges exist on the path to widespread adoption. Here are the top five commercialization obstacles perceived by industry players.
|Obstacle||% of survey respondents|
|Production Methods, Scaling, and Distribution||21%|
|Lack of Knowledge/Awareness||15%|
When transitioning cutting-edge materials from the laboratory to consumer products, challenges like these can be expected. But one company is tackling them head-on.
By producing 99.8% pure graphene, and ensuring batch-to-batch consistency, HydroGraph is helping meet the growing demand for graphene products across industries while addressing challenges like cost, scale, and quality.
Interested in learning more? Explore investment opportunities with HydroGraph now.
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