TORONTO, Feb. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Positive momentum from 2012 continued for investment funds in Canada into the first month of 2013, with strong gains posted in most equity, balanced, and fixed income fund categories in January. Thirty-seven of the 42 Morningstar Canada Fund Indices had positive results for the month, including increases of more than 3% for 13 of the 24 equity fund categories, according to preliminary performance data released today by Morningstar Canada.
Several trends that were observed in the last few months of 2012 continued into the new year. The best-performing fund index for the month of January, as it was for the whole of 2012, was the one that measures the Health Care Equity category with a 7% increase. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, the only two equity fund indices to lose ground for the month were once again Natural Resources Equity and Precious Metals Equity, which decreased by 0.1% and 7%, respectively.
"A combination of factors such as macroeconomic uncertainty, improving stock fundamentals, and increasing consumer demand due to an aging population contributed to the outperformance of the health care sector, which is traditionally seen as defensive," said Morningstar Fund Analyst Joanne Xiao. "Gold prices continued to face downward pressure and dropped more than 11% in the month of January alone, adding to the 11% decline in 2012."
Another trend that carried over from last year was the dominance of foreign equity funds over their Canadian-focused counterparts. The U.S. stock market had an exceptionally good month in January, with the S&P 500 Index gaining 5.2%; coupled with favourable currency effects, this translated into an average gain of 5.6% for funds in the U.S. Equity category, and 5.8% for the U.S. Small/Mid Cap Equity category. Major European and Asian markets also had a good month, leading to strong increases for the European Equity (4.6%), International Equity (4.6%), Global Equity (4.5%), and Japanese Equity (3.9%) fund indices.