Frontier stocks outperformed the worldwide equities market last month by the most in almost two years.
The MSCI Frontier Markets Index rose 3.5 percent in February, besting the MSCI All-World Index of both emerging- and developed-country stocks by 4.4 percentage points, the most since April 2014. The gauge has beat the rest of the world by more than that on only 11 occasions in the past decade.
The worldwide gauge fell 0.9 percent as separate benchmarks for emerging and developed markets both also declined, 0.3 percent and 1 percent. The main drivers for the advance in frontier equities included the stabilization of oil prices and rallies in Argentinian, Kenyan and Kuwaiti shares, Citigroup Inc. strategist Andrew Howell said in an e-mailed note.
While it is too early to tell whether frontier stocks can sustain the outperformance, a continuation of the February rally will build the case for “decoupling,” Howell said. Investors are drawn to the asset class because of its potential to generate higher returns, even though it is less liquid and transparent and harder to access than more mature markets.
The Frontier Markets Index’s Kuwaiti stocks, which have the benchmark’s biggest weighting at about 20 percent, rose approximately 5 percent on oil’s rebound. Optimism about political reforms in Argentina, the second-highest weighting, spurred that country’s equities.
Before February, there only had been three instances since 2002 when the MSCI’s gauge of stocks in the least-developed nations gained more than 3 percent in a month that saw the two other indexes fall.