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Gains for Stocks and Bonds but the Ride Was Bumpy

Gains for Stocks and Bonds but the Ride Was Bumpy
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2 min 46 sec
Highlights from the Global Markets in 1Q23

U.S. Equity:  U.S. stock indices posted positive returns in 1Q but it was not smooth sailing; strong returns in January were followed by negative results in February and mixed performance across sectors and styles in March. The S&P 500 Index rose 7.5% for the quarter and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 soared 20.8%. Within the S&P 500, Technology (+22%), Communication Services (+21%), and Consumer Discretionary (+16%) rose sharply while Financials (-6%), Energy (-5%), Health Care (-4%), and Utilities (-3%) fell.

Growth stocks trounced value for the quarter (Russell 1000 Growth: +14.4%; Russell 1000 Value: +1.0%) due largely to the sharp outperformance of Technology relative to Financials. Technology comprises just over 40% of the Russell 1000 Growth Index versus Financials at just under 7%. Within the Russell 1000 Index, just five stocks: Apple (+27%), Meta (+76%), Microsoft (+21%), NVIDIA (+90%), and Tesla (+68%) accounted for 60% of the 1Q return and made up about 15% of the Index. Small value (Russell 2000 Value: -0.7%) was the one sector to post negative returns, hurt by its exposure to smaller banks. Banks comprise just under 20% of this Index and were down 17% for the quarter. Small cap stocks underperformed mid and large (Russell 2000: +2.7%; Russell MidCap: +4.1%; Russell 1000: +7.5%) across the style spectrum.

Global Equity: Global ex-U.S. markets also posted solid results. The MSCI ACWI ex USA Index gained 6.9% (Local: +6.2%). Results were mixed across developed markets but most delivered positive returns. Europe ex-U.K. (+12%) outperformed Japan (+6%), the U.K. (+6%), and Canada (+4%).

Emerging Markets: Emerging markets (MSCI Emerging Markets: +4.0%; Local: +3.8%) were mixed; India (-6%) and Brazil (-3%) weighed on broad market returns while China (+5%) and Korea (+10%) outperformed. Quarterly returns were positive across regions: Latin America (+3.9%), Emerging Europe (+1.5%), and Emerging Asia (+4.8%).

U.S. Fixed Income: Following the worst year ever for core fixed income, the Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index rose 3.0% in 1Q. As with equities, it was a bumpy ride with solid returns in January and March sandwiching a negative February. The yield curve remained inverted as of quarter-end, by 58 bps for the 2-year/10-year and 116 bps for the 1-year/10-year. Historically, a yield curve inversion has been a good indicator of a coming recession. High yield (Bloomberg High Yield Index: +3.6%) performed well as defaults remained low, supply subdued, and equity markets climbed.

Munis also had a good quarter. The Bloomberg Municipal Bond Index rose 2.8% and the ratio of AAA municipal yields to the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell to 65%, well below its 10-year average (88%).

Global Fixed Income: While short-term rates were broadly higher, longer-term rates fell across developed markets in 1Q. The Bloomberg Global Aggregate ex USD Index rose 3.1% (hedged: +2.9%). Emerging markets debt indices were also up (JPM EMBI Global Diversified: +1.9% and the local currency JPM GBI-EM Global Diversified: + 5.2%). Emerging market currencies, broadly, did well vs. the U.S. dollar during the quarter.

Real Assets: Real assets were mixed in 1Q but generally underperformed global equities. Gold (S&P Gold Spot Price Index: +8.8%), REITs (MSCI US REIT: +2.7%), infrastructure (DJB Global Infrastructure: +2.5%), and TIPS (Bloomberg TIPS: +2.0%) all posted positive returns. The S&P GSCI Index fell 4.9% with oil down about 7%. WTI Crude closed the quarter at $74/barrel, just before OPEC announced its intention to cut production in May.

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