Year-end reviews allow investors to examine which investments did well and which were better left out of the portfolio. They also provide a summary of trends, and perhaps hint at future ones.
With an increasingly interdependent global economy, Americans’ investing portfolios are also increasingly tied to global developments. This year, the stock market continued to recover. The U.S. dollar also continued to strengthen, hitting a 13-year high last month. In commodities, energy and metals did well, while many agricultural commodities had a poor year.
Based on 2016 performance of individual investments in seven major investment classes — mutual funds, ETFs, large-cap stocks, IPOs, commodities, currencies, and fixed income mutual funds — 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the best and worst investments in 2016.
Betting on commodities was on the whole a good decision in 2016, with the S&P GSCI — a widely tracked commodities index — up 12% on the year. As was the case last year, The U.S. dollar was up against most of the most commonly traded global currencies. The election of Donald Trump has led to speculation that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates several times in the coming year.
In each of the seven asset classes, regardless of the overall market performance, some investments proved highly profitable, while others were disastrous for investors. While the S&P 500 index was up by about 11% at the time of this writing, the price of some stocks shot up while the price of others plummeted. The best performing large-cap stock so far in 2016 has been chipmaker NVidia — NVDA shares rose by 230%. Shares of pharmaceutical company Endo International, on the other hand, fell by nearly 75%.
The drop in oil and natural gas prices was also the reason the Venezuelan bolivar was the worst performing currency in 2015 relative to the U.S. dollar. The Venezuelan economy relies heavily on its substantial oil reserves, and the plummeting value of oil has devastated the country’s economy.
In order to identify the best investments of 2016, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from a number of sources. Rankings on mutual funds and ETF returns are from Morningstar. To determine fixed income mutual fund returns, we screened for bond funds exclusively. For large-cap stocks we used those comprising the S&P 500 index. Returns on IPOs assume investors bought shares at the IPO price. Currency data are from Google Finance and year to date price changes on commodities came from Bloomberg. Currencies were compared to the U.S. dollar and commodities were excluded if they were tied to a foreign currency. Year-to-date returns are all as of December 23, 2016.
These are the best (and worst) investments of 2015.