It's been a brutal start to 2016 for risk assets with many global benchmarks slipping into bear market territory. Citi analysts claimed this month that the global economy is seemingly trapped in a "death spiral" that could lead to a serious equity bear market.
Many investors have yet to find their footing after waves of selling but the more fleet-footed have found pockets of relative safety. CNBC highlights the markets, currencies and securities that have performed well since the start of the year. Some might surprise you.
(Prices as of end of U.S. session February 26, 2016)
By CNBC's Matt Clinch. Posted on March, 1, 2016.
For more of our coverage from 2016's Global Financial Markets Forum, click here.
Bullion is often used as a safe haven in times of economic stress. After flip-flopping for the last few years, spot gold has gained nearly 16 percent against the dollar year-to-date and even more against sterling which been hit by fears of a "Brexit."
"One of the key developments this year has been the sharp rally seen in gold prices," Simon Derrick, chief currency strategist at BNY Mellon, said in a note Thursday.
Slovakia's tiny SAX index is up 9 percent this year. The small euro zone nation has a relatively robust economy but few analysts follow the Bratislava index , which has little trading volume and low market capitalization.
Biotika is a Slovakia-based biotech firm that has more or less sent the SAX index on its leg higher. It's up nearly 44 percent for 2016 and it's the best performer in Bratislava. Be warned its market cap means its appreciation is from a low base. Its capitalization is $52 million compared to Apple's $532 billion. The whole SAX index has a capitalization of 62 billion euros.
There's some stellar rallies in the U.S. too, you just have to search hard to find them. Newmont Mining Corporation is a global mining company listed on the . Its exposure to gold means has attracted investors this year despite weakness in the broader market. It's up 40 percent year-to-date and Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the firm Thursday, up to $28 from $26.
London-listed miners have also seen some investors flocking back. These beaten-down stocks have been buoyed by talk this year that the slump in commodities might have reached a bottom. Glencore is up 42 percent so far this year but is still down around 74 percent since its 2011 IPO (initial public offering).
The gains for this retailer mostly came on one single day. Shares shot up more than 20 percent on February 2, after the handbag maker reported sales and profits that easily topped Wall Street's expectations. It's now up 41 percent year-to date but still down around 43 percent from its all-time high reached in early 2014.
Some emerging and Asian stock markets have also edged higher this year, putting the brakes on fears that Fed tightening would hit their economies. The Thai exchange is up 4.3 percent so far in 2016 and Paul Gambles, managing partner at MBMG International, confirms that it's a "relief rally, largely driven by a currency that was oversold last year."
However, he warned: "Big blue-chip names, that usually attract foreign buyers, may well not yet be cheap at these levels and may well have a very difficult year ahead."
is back to being a safe haven after a notable period of weakness that followed aggressive asset purchasing, as well as cuts in interest rates into negative territory by the Bank of Japan. From a level of 120 against the yen, the dollar is now back down to 113.09.
Bonds have been a natural shelter too, none more so than Japan's benchmark 10-year government bond. Yields fell below zero for the first time this month and have just kept on going down. Investors now pay for the privilege of holding Japanese government paper.
The Shanghai Composite might be crumbling but new listings have been hot. None more so than Jiangsu Jingshen Salt & Chemical Industry which is now up 250 percent after its IPO on New Year's Eve.