The United States and its disaster of a housing market might be the main source of the world's economic woes these days, but you wouldn't know it from the performance of its stock market. Make no mistake: The S&P 500 isn't exactly rewarding investors, with a year-to-date loss of 13.7 per cent. But on a sector-by-sector basis, it has actually outperformed the rest of the world.
According to Bespoke Investment Group, only U.S. financials (as represented by the MSCI U.S. index) have underperformed their MSCI counterparts outside the United States. The U.S. financial stocks have fallen 27.9 per cent, versus a drop of 25.7 per cent outside the U.S.
And what's most surprising is that U.S. consumer sectors - the ones you would think would bear the brunt of an economic recession - have outperformed their world peers by the widest margin. For example, U.S. consumer staples have fallen just 1.4 per cent this year, but global consumer staples have plunged 15.8 per cent. U.S. consumer discretionary stocks have fallen 8.7 per cent, but global consumer discretionary stocks have fallen a steeper 21.7 per cent.
"Aside from the consumer sectors, Industrials, Materials and Technology have also shown strong outperformance in the U.S.," said Bespoke on its blog, Think B.I.G. "Energy, Health Care and Utilities are about even."
How does Canada fare? The S&P/TSX composite index has certainly performed better than the S&P 500, falling just 4 per cent year-to-date. Canada's energy, materials, industrials and financials have also done better than the U.S. counterparts.
Curiously, when it comes to consumer sectors, Canada still lags though. The S&P/TSX consumer discretionary sector has plunged 22.5 per cent this year, or nearly 14 percentage points worse than the comparable U.S. sector. And Canada's consumer staples sector has fallen 6.4 per cent, or 5 percentage points worse than the comparable U.S. sector.