Real Estate Shares Are Crushing the S&P 500

(Bloomberg) -- Investors looking to offset tariff pain: REITs would like a word with you.

Since President Donald Trump ordered tariffs that roiled markets in March, real estate investment trusts have delivered returns dwarfing those of benchmark U.S. stock market indexes. The chart below shows the total returns -- returns with dividends reinvested -- of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and a broad-based REIT index, starting at the end of February.

Real Estate Shares Are Crushing the S&P 500

After a steep slide early this year, the FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITs Total Return Index has gained as much as 14.7 percent since the end of February. Both the REIT and broader stock indexes fell when Trump ordered tariffs on at least $50 billion in Chinese goods in late March, but the REITs have recovered more smartly.

That’s because REITs are somewhat insulated from the direct impacts of tariffs, said Jeffrey Langbaum, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence covering REITs. Interest rates and yields on Treasury bills are what tend to drive REIT prices, and that’s what’s behind their recent rally, Langbaum said -- investors are becoming more comfortable with 10-year Treasury yields hovering around 3 percent.

REITs still move with the broader economy. If the global trade battle takes a long-term toll, Langbaum said, landlords will feel the pain, too, and REITs could fall.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.