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Markets in a Minute

How Did Investors React to the COVID-19 Outbreak?

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Fund Flows Q1 2020

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How Did Investors React to the COVID-19 Outbreak?

Throughout Q1, investors faced a truly remarkable period of volatility.

For starters, the S&P 500 fell by 30% from its record high in February, achieving the feat in just 22 trading days—the fastest such decline in history. Outside of capital markets, economic damage was abundant. Lockdown orders left entire industries struggling to survive, and unemployment claims across America skyrocketed.

In today’s Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we analyze Q1 fund flow data to find out how U.S. investors navigated these highly uncertain times.

Seeking Shelter

A key theme of Q1 2020 was risk aversion, as evidenced by the $670B net inflow to money markets. Money market securities are an ideal investment during volatile periods, thanks to their relatively low risk and high liquidity.

Also of significance was the flow differential between the two main types of investment vehicles. By the end of March, net flows to mutual funds reached $400B, compared to just $58B to ETFs. This difference was fueled by the aforementioned demand for money markets, as mutual funds are the predominant vehicle used to access this asset class.

Below, we break down net flows by asset class, between ETFs and mutual funds:

Asset Class ETF FlowsMutual Funds FlowsNet Flows (Q1 2020)
Total+$58B+$400B+$458B
Money Market--+$670B+670B
International Equity-$1B+$21B+$20B
Commodities+$9B-$1B+$8B
Alternatives+$7B-$7B-$0.1B
Sector Equity-$4B-$7B-$11B
Municipal Bonds+$1B-$21B-$20B
U.S. Equity+$37B-$59B-$22B
Allocation-$0.2B-$33B-$33B
Taxable Bonds+$9B-$163B-$154B

Source: New York Life Investments (March 2020)

Taxable bonds fared the worst in terms of net flows, with -$154B pulled from both corporates and governments. This may come as a surprise, as these investments are generally considered to be safer than equities—so why were they sold off in such large amounts?

One trigger was the economic shock of COVID-19, which brought the creditworthiness of many U.S. companies into question. This issue is likely exacerbated by the record levels of corporate debt amassed prior to the disease hitting American shores.

The U.S. government’s rapidly rising fiscal deficit may be another trigger. If the supply of government debt were to overwhelm markets, the value of government bonds would fall, and investors would lose capital. It’s estimated that $4.5T will need to be borrowed to fund the government’s numerous COVID-19 support programs.

U.S. Equities Divided

Although U.S. equities saw net outflows in Q1, a deeper dive into the flow data uncovers a much more nuanced story. For example, with the exception of February, U.S. equity ETFs and mutual funds saw opposing net flows.

Vehicle TypeJanuary FlowsFebruary FlowsMarch Flows
Total-$14B-$13B+$5B
ETFs+$14B-$2B+$25B
Mutual Funds-$28B-$11B-$20B

Source: New York Life Investments (March 2020)

Overall, ETFs saw net inflows of $37B, while mutual funds saw net outflows of $59B. These findings suggest a strong investor preference for passively-managed products. Breaking down U.S. equity flows by investment style highlights another inequality.

Investment StyleNet Flows (Q1 2020)
Blend+$27B
Growth-$35B
Value-$14B

Source: New York Life Investments (March 2020)

Growth strategies prioritize capital appreciation, while value strategies seek stocks that pay dividends and are trading at a discount. Blend strategies, the only style to attract net inflows in Q1, offer investors a mix of both.

Betting on Oil

Within commodities, investors added $7B to precious metals funds. These inflows were not a surprise, given gold and silver’s status as safe-haven assets.

The only other subcategory to attract net inflows was energy—investors bet on a rise in the price of oil, adding $3B to energy funds over the quarter. Of this amount, $2B was added in March. Since then, oil prices have continued to slide (even falling below zero) due to plummeting demand and oversupply.

What’s in Store for the Rest of 2020?

Volatility is likely to continue throughout 2020. Uncertainty surrounding the duration of the pandemic remains, with countries such as South Korea and China reporting a resurgence in cases. Further questions arise as central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, continue to provide unprecedented levels of stimulus.

Nevertheless, sticking to a long-term investment plan, and avoiding common psychological pitfalls, can help investors prepare for whatever comes next.

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Markets in a Minute

All S&P 500 Sectors and Industries, by Size

The S&P 500 is one of the most common stock indexes, but do you know how it’s comprised? This chart shows all the S&P 500 sectors and industries by size.

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S&P 500 Sectors and Industries

All of the S&P 500 Sectors and Industries, by Size

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The S&P 500 is one of the most widely quoted stock market indexes, but do you know how it’s comprised? From soft drinks to semiconductors, the benchmark index tracks an extremely wide variety of industries across the U.S. economy.

In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we show every sector and its underlying industries by size.

A Sector View

At a high level, the S&P 500 tracks broad segments of the economy known as sectors. Here’s how the percentage allocation in the index breaks down:

SectorPercent of S&P 500 Index
Information Technology27.48%
Health Care14.58%
Consumer Discretionary11.18%
Communication Services10.90%
Financials9.89%
Industrials7.90%
Consumer Staples7.05%
Utilities3.13%
Real Estate2.80%
Materials2.56%
Energy2.53%

Data as of July 31, 2020.

Information technology, which makes up almost 28% of the index, has outperformed other sectors by a wide margin so far in 2020. At the other end of the spectrum, real estate, materials, and energy each make up less than 3% of the index.

Diving Deeper: An Industry View

While investors are likely familiar with sectors, the specific underlying industries may be lesser known. Below is a complete industry breakdown of the S&P 500.

Click “Next” to view industry breakdowns of each sector

SectorIndustry% of Sector
Communication Services
Advertising0.63%
Alternative Carriers0.32%
Broadcasting1.23%
Cable & Satellite9.86%
Integrated Telecommunication Services15.22%
Interactive Home Entertainment4.18%
Interactive Media & Services51.52%
Movies & Entertainment14.69%
Publishing & Printing0.22%
Communication Services (cont'd)Wireless Telecommunication Services2.12%
Consumer Discretionary
Apparel Retail3.39%
Apparel, Accessories & Luxury Goods1.27%
Auto Parts & Equipment0.94%
Automobile Manufacturers1.89%
Automotive Retail2.97%
Casinos & Gaming0.98%
Computer & Electronics Retail0.75%
Consumer Electronics0.47%
Consumer Discretionary (cont'd)Department Stores0.10%
Distributors0.71%
Footwear4.00%
General Merchandise Stores4.40%
Home Furnishings0.33%
Home Improvement Retail13.16%
Homebuilding2.19%
Hotels, Resorts & Cruise Lines2.05%
Household Appliances0.34%
Housewares & Specialties0.21%
Consumer Discretionary (cont'd)Internet & Direct Marketing Retail47.65%
Leisure Products0.31%
Restaurants10.44%
Specialized Consumer Services0.09%
Specialty Stores1.36%
Consumer Staples
Agricultural Products1.25%
Brewers0.37%
Distillers & Vintners2.23%
Drug Retail1.57%
Consumer Staples (cont'd)Food Distributors1.41%
Food Retail1.43%
Household Products26%
HyperMarkets & Super Centers17.15%
Packaged Foods & Meats14.79%
Personal Products2.39%
Soft Drinks21.13%
Tobacco10.28%
Energy
Integrated Oil & Gas50.88%
Energy (cont'd)Oil & Gas Equipment & Services8.13%
Oil & Gas Exploration & Production20.30%
Oil & Gas Refining & Marketing11.51%
Oil & Gas Storage & Transportation9.18%
Financials
Asset Management & Custody Banks8.08%
Consumer Finance4.40%
Diversified Banks27.43%
Financial Exchanges & Data11.91%
Insurance Brokers5.77%
Financials (cont'd)Investment Banking & Brokerage6.63%
Life & Health Insurance4.08%
Multi-line Insurance1.84%
Multi-Sector Holdings14.23%
Property & Casualty Insurance7.41%
Regional Banks7.91%
Reinsurance0.33%
Health Care
Biotechnology15.66%
Health Care Distributors1.65%
Health Care (cont'd)Health Care Equipment25.73%
Health Care Facilities1.06%
Health Care Services4.80%
Health Care Supplies1.64%
Health Care Technology0.54%
Life Sciences Tools & Services8.56%
Managed Health Care11.30%
Pharmaceuticals29.08%
Industrials
Aerospace & Defense20.41%
Industrials (cont'd)Agricultural & Farm Machinery2.58%
Air Freight & Logistics7.85%
Airlines2.27%
Building Products5.57%
Construction & Engineering0.78%
Construction Machinery & Heavy Trucks6.61%
Diversified Support Services2.09%
Electrical Components & Equipment5.66%
Environmental & Facilities Services3.20%
Human Resource & Employment Services0.27%
Industrials (cont'd)Industrial Conglomerates13.56%
Industrial Machinery10.12%
Railroads11.13%
Research & Consulting Services4.11%
Trading Companies & Distributors2.48%
Trucking1.32%
Information Technology
Application Software8.79%
Communications Equipment3.42%
Data Processing & Outsourced Services15.67%
Information Technology (cont'd)Electronic Components0.74%
Electronic Equipment & Instruments0.53%
Electronic Manufacturing Services0.48%
Internet Services & Infrastructure0.54%
IT Consulting & Other Services4.27%
Semiconductor Equipment1.95%
Semiconductors15.10%
Systems Software24.00%
Technology Distributors0.22%
Technology Hardware, Storage & Peripherals24.29%
Materials
Commodity Chemicals6.71%
Construction Materials4.11%
Copper2.71%
Diversified Chemicals1.46%
Fertilizers & Agricultural Chemicals6.71%
Gold8.02%
Industrial Gases27.73%
Metal & Glass Containers3.47%
Paper Packaging8.80%
Materials (cont'd)Specialty Chemicals28.45%
Steel1.82%
Real Estate
Health Care REITs6.78%
Hotel & Resort REITs1.00%
Industrial REITs12.24%
Office REITs5.85%
Real Estate Services1.94%
Residential REITs11.20%
Retail REITs7.51%
Real Estate (cont'd)Specialized REITs53.48%
Utilities
Electric Utilities62.41%
Gas Utilities1.53%
Independent Power Producers & Energy Traders1.20%
Water Utilities3.15%
Multi-Utilities31.71%

Data as of July 31, 2020.

In total, the S&P 500 tracks 126 industries, and each one presents unique risks and opportunities.

Biotechnology, which focuses on novel drug development and clinical research for treating diseases, has gained renewed interest during the COVID-19 pandemic. While successful drugs can offer high potential returns, about 90% of clinical programs ultimately fail. Investors can screen potential companies for various factors including corporate sponsor support, ample long-term funds, and a pipeline with more than one product.

Another example is aerospace and defense. Due to the high barriers to entry and significant funding from the U.S. government, this can be an attractive industry for investors. However, it can be impacted by the current government’s defense policies. For example, the aerospace and defense industry performed well after President Donald Trump was elected, and it may be influenced by the November 2020 election results.

The Big Picture

With a full view of the S&P 500 sectors and industries, investors can get a better idea of the opportunities within U.S. large cap stocks. However, it’s worth noting that it is not possible to invest directly in an index. Investors can put funds in these industries by purchasing stocks directly, or through managed products such as ETFs and mutual funds that track index performance.

By exploring every corner of the economy, investors can take advantage of growth potential in various areas—not just those trending in the news cycle.

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Markets in a Minute

The State of Women’s Economic Rights Worldwide

On average globally, women have three-quarters of the legal economic rights granted to men. This map shows the state of women’s economic rights around the world.

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Women's Economic Rights

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The State of Women’s Economic Rights Worldwide

While significant progress has been made over time, women still face entrepreneurship and employment barriers. In fact, on average around the globe, women have just three-quarters of the legal economic rights granted to men.

Equal opportunities are important not only from a human rights perspective, but also from an economic perspective. When women are able to work outside the home and manage money, they are more likely to join the workforce and contribute to economic growth.

In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we show the state of women’s legal economic rights around the world.

Economic Opportunity by Country

The World Bank analyzed eight metrics that affect women’s economic empowerment at various life stages: mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pension. For example, in places where women are able to move around freely, they are more likely to join the workforce.

To ensure comparability, women are assumed to work in the main business city of their country and in the formal sector. The formal sector refers to work with companies that contribute taxes and/or are registered with the government. It’s also worth noting that the data is based on legal rights, and religious or customary laws are not considered unless codified.

A score of 100 means that women have the same legal economic rights as men for the eight metrics measured. Here’s how each of the 190 economies stack up, sorted by score.

EconomyScore
Belgium100.0
Canada100.0
Denmark100.0
France100.0
Iceland100.0
Latvia100.0
Luxembourg100.0
Sweden100.0
Estonia97.5
Finland97.5
Germany97.5
Greece97.5
Ireland97.5
Italy97.5
Netherlands97.5
Portugal97.5
Spain97.5
United Kingdom97.5
Australia96.9
Hungary96.9
Norway96.9
Peru95.0
Austria94.4
New Zealand94.4
Paraguay94.4
Slovak Republic94.4
Croatia93.8
Czech Republic93.8
Lithuania93.8
Poland93.8
Serbia93.8
Slovenia93.8
Kosovo91.9
Mauritius91.9
Albania91.3
Cyprus91.3
Taiwan, China91.3
United States91.3
Bulgaria90.6
Romania90.6
Ecuador89.4
Hong Kong SAR, China89.4
El Salvador88.8
Malta88.8
Uruguay88.8
Lao PDR88.1
South Africa88.1
Guyana86.9
Zimbabwe86.9
Cabo Verde86.3
Dominican Republic86.3
Namibia86.3
Nicaragua86.3
São Tomé and Príncipe86.3
Georgia85.6
Switzerland85.6
Bosnia and Herzegovina85.0
Korea, Rep.85.0
North Macedonia85.0
Venezuela, RB85.0
Moldova84.4
Tanzania84.4
Togo84.4
Liberia83.8
Mexico83.8
St. Lucia83.8
Côte d’Ivoire83.1
Timor-Leste83.1
Armenia82.5
Bolivia82.5
Mongolia82.5
Singapore82.5
Turkey82.5
Brazil81.9
Colombia81.9
Japan81.9
Montenegro81.9
Bahamas, The81.3
Philippines81.3
Puerto Rico81.3
Zambia81.3
Grenada80.6
Kenya80.6
Malawi80.6
Costa Rica80.0
Samoa80.0
San Marino80.0
Belize79.4
Burkina Faso79.4
Fiji79.4
Panama79.4
Azerbaijan78.8
Congo, Dem. Rep.78.8
Kiribati78.8
Tajikistan78.8
Ukraine78.8
Vietnam78.8
Rwanda78.1
Thailand78.1
Chile77.5
Israel77.5
Barbados76.9
Kyrgyz Republic76.9
Mozambique76.9
Argentina76.3
Seychelles76.3
Belarus75.6
China75.6
Lesotho75.6
Morocco75.6
Cambodia75.0
Ghana75.0
Honduras75.0
Trinidad and Tobago75.0
Benin74.4
Gambia, The74.4
India74.4
Maldives73.8
Nepal73.8
Angola73.1
Burundi73.1
Russian Federation73.1
Uganda73.1
Kazakhstan72.5
Bhutan71.9
Ethiopia71.9
Madagascar71.9
Central African Republic71.3
St. Kitts and Nevis71.3
Guatemala70.6
Saudi Arabia70.6
South Sudan70.0
Tunisia70.0
Eritrea69.4
Djibouti68.1
Jamaica68.1
Sri Lanka68.1
St. Vincent and the Grenadines68.1
Uzbekistan67.5
Antigua and Barbuda66.3
Chad66.3
Suriname66.3
Guinea65.0
Indonesia64.4
Botswana63.8
Senegal63.8
Nigeria63.1
Sierra Leone63.1
Dominica62.5
Haiti61.3
Micronesia, Fed. Sts.61.3
Mali60.6
Papua New Guinea60.0
Niger59.4
Comoros58.8
Marshall Islands58.8
Myanmar58.8
Palau58.8
Tonga58.8
Vanuatu58.1
Algeria57.5
Gabon57.5
Cameroon56.9
Solomon Islands56.9
United Arab Emirates56.3
Brunei Darussalam53.1
Lebanon52.5
Equatorial Guinea51.9
Libya50.0
Malaysia50.0
Bangladesh49.4
Pakistan49.4
Somalia46.9
Bahrain46.3
Congo, Rep.46.3
Eswatini46.3
Mauritania45.6
Egypt, Arab Rep.45.0
Iraq45.0
Guinea-Bissau42.5
Jordan40.6
Oman38.8
Afghanistan38.1
Syrian Arab Republic36.9
Kuwait32.5
Qatar32.5
Iran, Islamic Rep.31.3
Sudan29.4
Yemen, Rep.26.9
West Bank and Gaza26.3

Data as of September 1, 2019.

Following the introduction of paid paternity leave, Canada joined seven other countries that have a perfect score of 100. Paid leave for fathers contributes positively to women’s economic opportunity as it allows childcare responsibilities to be distributed more evenly.

At the other end of the spectrum, economies in the Middle East and North Africa had the lowest scores, with women having only half of the economic rights granted to men. However, these regions have also seen their scores improving the most.

For example, Saudi Arabia was the top-improving economy, more than doubling its score from 31.8 in 2017 to 70.6 in 2019. The country exacted reforms that had an impact on six out of the eight metrics. The amendments included allowing women to travel abroad without the approval of a male guardian, and changes that prohibit employment discrimination.

A Force for Good, and Economic Growth

All regions have improved their scores, but most countries still need further legal reform to put women on an equal economic footing with men. Doing so will have important socioeconomic implications. For instance, greater equality of economic opportunity is correlated with a reduction in the wage gap, increasing women’s earning power.

It also has positive economic outcomes. One study published in the Harvard Business Review found that when more women joined the workforce, they helped make cities more productive and increased real wages for both women and men.

As investors pursue geographic areas with economic growth potential, they may want to consider countries that are making the biggest strides for women’s economic rights.

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