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  • Guided Allocation

    Smooth Sailing But Rougher Seas Looming

    David Schassler, Portfolio Manager
    May 23, 2019

    The VanEck Vectors® Real Asset Allocation ETF (RAAX™) uses a data-driven, rules-based process that leverages over 50 indicators (technical, macroeconomic and fundamental, commodity price, and sentiment) to allocate across 12 individual real asset segments in five broad real asset sectors. These objective indicators identify the segments with positive expected returns. Then, using correlation and volatility, an optimization process determines the weight to these segments with the goal of creating a portfolio with maximum diversification while reducing risk. The expanded PDF version of this commentary can be downloaded here.


    The VanEck Real Asset Allocation ETF (“RAAX”) remains bullish on most real asset sectors.

    • RAAX remains bullish on real assets based on bullish price trends, normalized volatility, strong commodity prices, and supportive macroeconomic and fundamental factors.
    • The broad equity markets were up significantly in April. The S&P 500 Index returned 4.05%, posting a new all-time high. The performance of real assets was mixed. Gold struggled to perform due to the generally high appetite for risk assets and the strength of the U.S. dollar.


    Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of April 30, 2019
      1 Mo YTD 1 Year Life
    RAAX (NAV) -1.03 0.69 -3.20 -0.30
    RAAX (Share Price) -1.03 0.64 -3.38 -0.22
    Blended Real Asset Index*0.15 0.15 10.63 -0.32 1.85

    Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of March 31, 2019
      1 Mo YTD 1 Year Life
    RAAX (NAV) 1.04 0.73 - 0.72
    RAAX (Share Price) 1.04 1.69 - 0.80
    Blended Real Asset Index* 0.76 10.46 - 1.81

    The table presents past performance which is no guarantee of future results and which may be lower or higher than current performance. Returns reflect temporary contractual fee waivers and/or expense reimbursements. Had the ETF incurred all expenses and fees, investment returns would have been reduced. Investment returns and ETF share values will fluctuate so that investors’ shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. ETF returns assume that distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at “Net Asset Value” (NAV). NAV is determined at the close of each business day, and represents the dollar value of one share of the fund; it is calculated by taking the total assets of the fund, subtracting total liabilities, and dividing by the total number of shares outstanding. The NAV is not necessarily the same as the ETF’s intraday trading value. VanEck Vectors ETF investors should not expect to buy or sell shares at NAV.

    Returns less than a year are not annualized.

    Expenses: Gross 0.81%; Net 0.74%. Expenses are capped contractually at 0.55% through February 1, 2020. Expenses are based on estimated amounts for the current fiscal year. Cap exclude certain expenses, such as interest, acquired fund fees and expenses, and trading expenses.

    Performance and Positioning

    RAAX returned -1.03% in April. RAAX’s top performing positions were in unconventional oil & gas equities, agribusiness equities, and global infrastructure. Its bottom performing positions were in gold equities, steel equities, and oil services equities.

    This month, RAAX increased its REIT allocation from 9% to 19%, reduced its gold equity allocation from 16% to 5%, added a 6% allocation to diversified commodities, and removed its 5% allocation to coal equities.

    Digging Deeper into Real Assets

    At the beginning of May, RAAX was bullish on most real assets. This chart shows the breadth of real asset signals. Recently, the market has been rumbling due to concerns about the continuing trade dispute between the U.S. and China, and the indicators have been reacting to increased risk. The recent weakness in prices is being picked up by the trend indicators. As of May 1, 83% of the indicators were bullish. Now, as of May 15, only 70% of the indicators are bullish.

    Real Assets Take A Deep Breadth: Aggregate of RAAX Indicators Strongly Bullish

    (January 1, 2018 to May 15, 2019

    RAAX Indicators

    Source: VanEck. Data as of May 15, 2019. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Charts are for illustrative purposes only.

    While most real asset indicators are still bullish, one risk factor worth paying close attention to is investor sentiment. Investor sentiment is a contrarian indicator designed to identify overbought market conditions. As you can see from the chart below, our real asset sentiment composite turned bearish (50 or below) at the beginning of May.

    Sentiment Turns Bearish: Composite of Real Asset Sentiment Indicators

    (January 1, 2018 to May 15, 2019)

    Composite real Asset Sentiment Indicators

    Source: VanEck. Data as of May 15, 2019. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Charts are for illustrative purposes only.

    The rally in real assets is now in a precarious position. Prices have run up very quickly while systemic risk is now re-emerging. On top of that, investor sentiment is overbought. RAAX will remain adaptive to the risks in the market. Near-term, a significant worsening in the current market conditions would likely result in a much more defensive posture for RAAX.

    May Positioning

    After transitioning from its strongly defensive posture to a diversified portfolio of real asset investments in March and April, RAAX remains fully allocated in May. This month, RAAX increased its REIT allocation from 9% to 19%, reduced its gold equity allocation from 16% to 5%, added a 6% allocation to diversified commodities, and removed its 5% allocation to coal equities.

    Real Asset Sector and Asset Class Weights, May 2019

    Asset Class Weights

    Source: VanEck. As of May 2019.


    Please note that the information herein represents the opinion of the author, but not necessarily those of VanEck, and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of VanEck.

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    The Blended Real Assets Index consists of an equally weighted blend of the returns of Bloomberg Commodity Index, S&P Real Assets Equity Index, and VanEck® Natural Resources Index. Equal weightings are reset monthly. The S&P Real Assets Equity Index measures the performance of equity real return strategies that invest in listed global property, infrastructure, natural resources, and timber and forestry companies. The VanEck Natural Resources Index is a rules-based index intended to give investors a means of tracking the overall performance of a global universe of listed companies engaged in the production and distribution of commodities and commodity-related products and services. Sector weights are set annually based on estimates of global natural resources consumption, and stock weights within sectors are based on market capitalization, float-adjusted and modified to conform to various asset diversification requirements. The S&P 500® Index (S&P 500) consists of 500 widely held common stocks, covering four broad sectors (industrials, utilities, financial and transportation).

    The S&P Real Assets Equity Index is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and/or its affiliates and has been licensed for use by Van Eck Associates Corporation. Copyright© 2019 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global, Inc., and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Redistribution or reproduction in whole or in part are prohibited without written permission of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. For more information on any of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC’s indices please visit www.spdji. com. S&P® is a registered trademark of S&P Global and Dow Jones®is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. Neither S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC, their affiliates nor their third party licensors make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the ability of any index to accurately represent the asset class or market sector that it purports to represent and neither S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC, their affiliates nor their third party licensors shall have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of any index or the data included therein.

    The Solactive MLP & Energy Infrastructure Index tracks the performance of MLPs and energy infrastructure corporations. The MVIS U.S. Listed Oil Services 25 Index is intended to track the overall performance of U.S.-listed companies involved in oil services to the upstream oil sector, which include oil equipment, oil services, or oil drilling. The Dow Jones Equity All REIT Index, designed to measure all publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the Dow Jones U.S. stock universe classified as equity REITs according to the S&P Dow Jones Indices REIT Industry Classification Hierarchy. The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index is a modified market capitalization-weighted index composed of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold. The Index is calculated and maintained by the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P® North American Natural Resources Sector Index: a modified capitalization-weighted index which includes companies involved in the following categories: extractive industries, energy companies, owners and operators of timber tracts, for GSCI Total Return Index: is a world production-weighted commodity index comprised of liquid, exchange-traded futures contracts and is often used as a benchmark for world commodity prices.

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