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Virtus Viewpoints:
Slowing Growth, Rising Risk Aversion

Stock market returns were mixed in the third quarter. Largecap stocks advanced slightly with a return of 1.70% (S&P 500® Index) while small-capitalization stocks fell 2.40% (Russell 2000® Index) and international developed markets declined 1.07% (MSCI EAFE® Index). Emerging markets suffered the most in the quarter, declining 4.25% (MSCI Emerging Markets Index). Year to date, returns were still favorable across the globe (S&P 500: +20.55%, Russell 2000: +14.18%, MSCI EAFE: +12.80%, MSCI Emerging Markets: +5.89%), but the quarter saw increasing risk aversion by investors.

Fixed income continued to perform well in response to a continued global economic slowdown. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index advanced 2.27% in the quarter, bringing the year-to-date return to 8.52%. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield continued its descent, falling from 2.02% to 1.68% during the quarter. High yield bonds lagged the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index with a return of 1.22% in the quarter, but the asset class was still up 11.50% for the year-to-date (ICE BofAML U.S. High Yield Index). Municipal bonds and emerging-market debt also lagged the U.S. Aggregate Bond Index for the quarter, advancing 1.58% (Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Municipal Index) and 1.34% (EMBI Global Index), respectively.

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The S&P 500® Index is a market capitalization weighted index which includes 500 of the largest companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. Small-capitalization stocks are represented by the Russell 2000® Index which is a market capitalization-weighted index of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell Universe, which comprises the 3,000 largest U.S. companies. Developed international markets are represented by the MSCI® EAFE Index which is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that measures developed foreign market equity performance, excluding the U.S. and Canada. Emerging markets are represented by the MSCI® Emerging Markets (EM) Index which is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index tracking the equity performance of global emerging markets. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a market value weighted index that tracks the daily price, coupon, pay downs and total return performance of fixed-rate, publicly placed, dollar-denominated and non-convertible investment grade debt issues with at least $250 million par amount outstanding with at least one year to final maturity. Performance is calculated on a total return basis with dividends reinvested. The ICE BofAML US High Yield Index tracks the performance of U.S. dollar denominated below-investment-grade corporate debt publicly issued in the U.S. domestic market. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Municipal Index covers the USD-denominated long-term tax exempt bond market. The index has four main sectors: state and local general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, insured bonds and prefunded bonds. The J.P. Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index Global (EMBI Global) includes U.S.-dollar-denominated Brady bonds, Eurobonds, traded loans, and local market debt instruments issued by sovereign and quasi-sovereign entities.

The commentary is the opinion of the subadviser. This material has been prepared using sources of information generally believed to be reliable; however, its accuracy is not guaranteed. Opinions represented are subject to change and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of securities.

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

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