Equity markets generated solid gains during the first quarter of 2021 with the S&P 500 returning 6.2% during this period. Stocks got off to a shaky start in January but this volatility proved to be short lived and equities advanced in the following two months, supported by the positive news on additional fiscal stimulus, economic re-opening and accelerated vaccine distribution. Value stocks – such as financials, industrials and energy – outperformed growth shares. In addition, smaller companies generated strong gains and larger ones lagged.
Bond yields rose meaningfully during the first quarter due to rising growth and inflation expectations. The yield curve steepened and US treasuries realized their second worst quarterly total return since 1980. As a result, government bonds underperformed corporates. Investment grade bonds were negative for the quarter and high yield generated a modest positive return. The latter benefitted from its economic sensitivity and investors’ risk appetite.
Commodities rallied strongly during the first quarter of this year with energy advancing the most. The price of West Texas Intermediate increased 22%, driven by higher global demand expectations and controlled supply. The US dollar rose 3.77% versus a basket of major currencies.
The market value of the portfolio crossed a notable milestone as it exceeded the $ 20 billion dollar mark. The portfolio’s market value stood at $ 20.2 billion, up from $ 19.3 billion at the end of last year. On a trailing one year basis, the portfolio generated a net return of 25.7% relative to the policy benchmark return of 26.8%. It is important to note that OCERS portfolio maintains a meaningful allocation to private investments with lagged valuations that fail to capture the recent strong performance in public markets. This is the main reason for OCERS’ portfolio underperforming the policy benchmark.
OCERS’ Total Fund (net of fees) return data as of March 31, 2021:
|Total Fund (net of fees)