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Japan and smaller companies lead the way in 2015

Written by: Adam Lewis
Funds investing in Japan have lead the way in terms of investment returns in 2015, while investors in Global Emerging Markets fund suffered the worst according to Hargreaves Landown’s investment review of the year.

Year-to-date the IA Japan sector has returned 15.44%, while investing in smaller companies has also proved a successful strategy with Japanese Smaller Companies (14.98%), European Smaller Companies (13.2%) and UK Smaller Companies (12.6%) making up the top four performing peer groups. Sitting in fifth place was the IA Technology and Telecoms sector which is up 8.11% over the year.

At the bottom of the pile was the IA Global Emerging Markets sector, which saw an average fund fall of 7.8% over the same time period, while the Asia Pacific (ex Japan) sector also suffered, falling 4.18%. Continuing the theme the IA Global Emerging Markets Bond peer group was also in the bottom five, with a sector average fall of 2.66%.

Completing the bottom five performing sectors were the IA Specialist sector, which fell 4.34%, and the IA Global Bond sector, which was down 1.54%.

“The sound of breaking china reverberated around the world in the latter half of this year,” says Heather Ferguson, an investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “Commodity-related industries have taken a pasting on concerns over China’s slowing economy, and shares in many emerging market regions have suffered as a result.

“Closer to home, uncertainty over when interest rates will rise, a general election, and numerous budget changes have combined with China woes to cause a volatile year for UK shares. Despite this, the UK stock market has still generated a positive return for investors so far this year, albeit a modest one.”

Indeed, with dividends reinvested, the FTSE All Share Index has returned 2.3% so far in 2015 (to 30 November.

From an individual stock perspective, among the best performers were Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Developments, Persimmon and the Berkeley Group, as record low interest rates and favourable government policy provided the housebuilding sector with a 36% boost.

Not surprising the worst performers is a roll call of mining companies, such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Glencore, after the sector fell 37% over the year as concerns of China’s slowing growth cast doubt over the future profitability of these companies. Glencore was the worst, down 66% over the year.

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