U.S. stocks rose modestly for the quarter as a strong rally in the latter half of the period erased earlier losses. Worries that a slowing global economy might drag the U.S. down caused markets to get off to a poor start in 2016. However, market sentiment rebounded in mid-February amid higher oil prices and improved U.S. economic data. International developed markets stocks fell in the period, but emerging markets stocks gained. In the global industrials space, utilities, construction and engineering, household durables, and construction and farm equipment stocks performed best. Automobiles and information technology were the weakest. The U.S. dollar weakened against several major currencies, boosting equity returns for U.S. investors.
The Global Industrials Fund returned 2.10% in the quarter compared with 1.17% for the MSCI ACWI Index Industrials + Automobiles & Auto Components. For the 12 months ended March 31, 2016, the fund returned −4.01% versus −4.35% for the MSCI ACWI Index Industrials + Automobiles & Auto Components. The fund's 1-year and Since Inception (10/24/2013) average annual total returns were −4.01% and 1.36%, respectively, as of March 31, 2016. The fund's expense ratio was 2.39% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2015.
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Stocks in the transportation infrastructure, household durables, and trading companies and distributors industries performed best for the portfolio. Automobiles, aerospace and defense, and automobile components stocks generated sharp losses for the period. Information technology, building products, and business services are the portfolio's largest overweight positions relative to our benchmark. Automobiles, aerospace and defense, and road and rail stocks represent our largest underweights. Component suppliers and industrial technology companies are areas of focus because we believe that companies will invest more to increase productivity than to increase capacity.
We expect modest global economic growth in 2016 that should be similar to the expansion seen in 2015. Our base-case scenario is that developed market growth, led by the U.S., will continue to plod along at a moderate pace and that emerging markets, in aggregate, will grow at a decelerating rate. A key change for 2016 is that we are hopeful that the industrial economy can show improved growth rates in the second half of the year versus the first half. We are cautiously optimistic that employment gains and healthy consumer spending in developed markets can support the broader economy in the first half of 2016, and that by the second half of the year, many industrials segments will start to benefit from the end of inventory destocking and easier year-over-year comparisons.