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February 2024 Performance Review

March 9, 2024

The market booked another strong month for U.S. stocks. The only foreign market that outperformed the U.S. in February was China which rebounded nearly 10%. Interest rates drifted back up, sending bonds down. Our globally balanced portfolio was up but lagged behind U.S. stocks by a wide margin, as a handful of growth stocks continued to drive returns. Year to date the S&P 500 is up just over 7%, foreign markets as a whole are only up around 1%, and the U.S. bond market is down 1.6%.

Our Conservative portfolio gained 1.05%, and our Aggressive portfolio gained 1.65% in February. Benchmark Vanguard funds for February 2024 were as follows: Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX), up 5.34%; Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX), down 1.39%; Vanguard Developed Mkts Index (VTMGX), up 2.83%; Vanguard Emerging Mkts Index (VEIEX), up 3.98%; and Vanguard Star Fund (VGSTX), a total global balanced portfolio, up 2.43%.

Our strong areas relative to the hot U.S. market last month were Franklin FTSE South Korea (FLKR) and Franklin FTSE China (FLCH), up 8.13% and 6.62% respectively, with a good showing in Homestead Value Fund (HOVLX) and Franklin FTSE Germany (FLGR). Most of our foreign stock funds were a relative drag, and it's better not to even ask about shorting Bitcoin as the crypto bubble flares up again.

Rates drifted back up, sending our three longer-term bond funds down over 2%. Inflation is going in the right direction, but with a mini trade war with China, sky-high real estate prices, and questionable work-at-home productivity, alongside ongoing massive deficit spending, it is unclear if we'll see stable low inflation without higher rates. Worse, it appears low rates could lead to an even bigger asset bubble than we had a couple of years ago before rates went up.

Stock Funds 1mo %
Franklin FTSE South Korea (FLKR) 8.13%
Franklin FTSE China (FLCH) 6.62%
Homestead Value Fund (HOVLX) 6.13%
Franklin FTSE Germany (FLGR) 5.41%
[Benchmark] Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX) 5.34%
Vanguard Communications ETF (VOX) 4.58%
Franklin FTSE Japan ETF (FLJP) 4.17%
VanEck Vectors Pharma. (PPH) 4.10%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Emerging Mkts Stock Idx (VEIEX) 3.98%
Vanguard Value Index (VTV) 3.34%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Tax-Managed Intl Adm (VTMGX) 2.83%
Vanguard FTSE Developed Mkts. (VEA) 2.74%
Vanguard FTSE Europe (VGK) 2.40%
Vangaurd All-World Small-Cap (VSS) 1.57%
LeatherBack L/S Alt. Yld. (LBAY) 1.04%
Franklin FTSE Brazil (FLBR) 0.34%
Proshares Short High Yld (SJB) 0.29%
Invesco CurrencyShares Euro (FXE) 0.18%
UltraShort Bloom. Crude Oil (SCO) -3.83%
ProShares Decline of Retail (EMTY) -8.08%
ProShares UltraShort QQQ (QID) -9.44%
Proshares Short Bitcoin (BITI) -31.93%
Bond Funds 1mo %
iShares JP Morgan Em. Bond (LEMB) 0.36%
BondBloxx Six Month Treasury ETF (XHLF) 0.36%
[Benchmark] Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX) -1.39%
Vangaurd L/T Treasury (VGLT) -2.32%
Vanguard Long-Term Bond Index ETF (BLV) -2.37%
Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury (EDV) -2.62%