Monthly Market Monitor - April 2015 Recap
U.S. stocks ended the month on a down note as April 30th selling erased some of the gains the S&P 500 had accumulated during the second half of the month. Gains in equities are coming in less robust this year, the seventh year of the bull market, as investors have wrestled with signs of a slowdown in first quarter economic growth, mixed corporate earnings and diverging expectations on when the Federal Reserve will begin to raise interest rates. Meanwhile, after strengthening the most in a decade, the US dollar index fell in April, its first decline in 10 months. Overall, the modest S&P 500 April gain was led by a 6.65% surge in energy shares as oil prices climbed by over $10/barrel last month to $59.63, its highest closing level so far this year.
Just five of the ten major S&P 500 sectors finished April in positive territory, with Energy (+6.65%), Telecom (+5.87%) and Materials (+3.08%) gaining the most. Healthcare (-1.34%), Consumer Staples (-0.76%) and Utilities (-0.45%) lagged most. On a YTD basis, Telecom and Healthcare are this yearâ€™s top performers, up 7.50% and 5.10% respectively.
Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, declined 2.55% last month, underperforming large-cap stocks by a wide margin. Mid-cap stocks also lagged, falling 0.91% in April, as measured by the Russell Mid Cap Index. Value outperformed growth with the Russell 1000 Value Index rising 0.93% in April, while the Russell 1000 Growth Index rose by 0.50%. However on a YTD basis, the Russell 1000 Growth Index has widely outperformed the Russell 1000 Value Index (4.36% versus 0.21%).
The MSCI EAFE Index, a broad measure of 21 global developed markets outside of the U.S. and Canada, outperformed domestic stocks for a fourth consecutive month and on the year, advancing 4.08% and 9.16% respectively. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index, an index representing 23 emerging nationsâ€™ economies, surged 7.69% in April and is up 10.10% YTD, clearly benefiting from the lower-for-longer U.S. interest rate view.
Treasuries, as measured by the Barclays U.S. Government Bond Index, fell 0.50% in April. Its YTD return is still a positive 1.10%. As U.S. debt prices fell, the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes climbed by 11 basis points to end the month with a 2.03% yield.
U.S. investment grade corporate, government and agency-backed bonds, as measured by the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, declined 0.36% last month, trimming the benchmarkâ€™s YTD gain to 1.24%. The Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Index, a proxy for below-investment grade corporate bonds, gained 1.21%, extending a 3.76% YTD gain. The Barclays Municipal Bond Index fell 0.52% in April, paring its YTD gain to 0.48%.
This information is compiled by Cetera Investment Management.
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