Large-cap U.S. stocks were roughly flat for the second quarter as optimism about resilient corporate earnings growth and enthusiasm about a reaccelerating U.S. economy gave way to worries over the ongoing Greek debt crisis. Natural resources stocks fell but at a slower pace than the sharp losses seen in the latter half of 2014. Although the recent stabilization in prices for oil and other commodities is welcome, a stronger U.S. dollar, slower global growth, and unfavorable supply/demand dynamic continue to weigh on commodities and energy stocks.
The New Era Fund returned −2.69% in the quarter compared with 0.28% for the S&P 500 Index and −1.06% for the Lipper Global Natural Resources Funds Index. For the 12 months ended June 30, 2015, the fund returned −22.44% versus 7.42% for the S&P 500 Index and −25.93% for the Lipper Global Natural Resources Funds Index. The fund's average annual total returns were −22.44%, 5.08%, and 4.75% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of June 30, 2015. The fund's expense ratio was 0.65% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2014.
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Although the long-term environment remains challenging, we believe that we are now in the midst of a short-term trading rally for oil as rig counts have collapsed, U.S. oil production is beginning to plateau and roll over, and seasonal global demand is picking up. We are looking for opportunities in energy exploration and production companies that are moving down the cost curve and accelerating growth through the development of their assets. We also like commodity-related companies, such as specialty chemicals and packaging, whose input costs are declining while product sales are increasing.
We continue to believe that the natural resources market is in the initial years of a secular down cycle for oil and other commodities. Within this challenging environment, however, we expect to see wide dispersion among industries and companies and are mindful that cyclical dislocations could give a boost for select commodity prices. We maintain the structural integrity of our portfolio in the context of our longer-term down cycle view while being mindful of short-term trading rallies, and we will make tactical portfolio shifts as appropriate. We remain committed to our bottom-up stock selection process to identify a diverse selection of fundamentally sound natural resources companies.