Blogs & Comment

Amusing stock market factoids

1. Weren’t stocks supposed to be sure bets for the long term? That’s what some pundits are asking lately: the annualized gain (to June 30) in the S&P 500is just 1.2% over the past 10 years. Hey, wait a minute one might counter — stocks still are good bets for the long run: the annualized gain in the S&P 500 over the past 20 years is 8.1% (add 1% to 2% for the total return calculation).

2. During the first six months of 2008, the S&P/TSX Composite Indexrose 4.6%. But the gain was narrowly based: without increases in Potash Corp. (TSX: POT)of 65%, Encana (TSX: ECA)of 38% and Canadian Natural Resources (TSX: CNQ)of 39%, the index would have risen only 0.1%. By comparison, the resource-light S&P 500 tumbled 12.8% over the first six months; the fall would have been a bit worse without Wal-Mart’s (NYSE: WMT)18% appreciation. Japan and France had some of the worst declines over the past year; their markets have plunged 26% and 27%, respectively.

3. Amidst the global carnage in stock markets, there was a 24% jump in the S&P/TSX Income Trust Total Return Indexduring the first six months of 2008 (and rise of 20% over the past 12 months). Weren’t the trusts doomed to extinction after the Harper Conservatives broadsided them with punitive tax burdens scheduled to come into effect?

4. Hedge funds are living up to their reputation as providers of absolute returns through good and bad markets. The Credit Suisse Tremont Hedge Fund Index is up nearly 5% in the year to June 30. Short-selling funds recorded gains of 12.6%, followed by managed-futures and market-neutral funds at 11.5% and 7.9%, respectively.