Market Pulse: April 2024 Recap

April presented a stark contrast to the previous months, with major equity markets experiencing a broad-based sell-off, as data forced investors to reappraise their expectations for interest rates – in that they became a more distant prospect.

Market Correction: All major indices closed the month in negative territory.

Performance Drop: The S&P 500 led the decline with a loss of 4.1%, followed by the Dow Jones Industrial Average which fell by 3.2%. The Nasdaq Composite also retreated by 3.8%.

Sector Performance

Worst Performing Sectors: Real Estate (-6.1%) emerged as the worst-performing sector due to rising interest rates, which typically dampen demand for property investments. Communication Services (-4.8%) also struggled as some investor concerns regarding future growth prospects emerged.

Limited Gainers: There were few bright spots in April. Consumer Staples (+1.2%) managed a slight gain, reflecting investors seeking defensive assets during market volatility.

Geopolitical and Central Bank News

Geopolitical Tensions Flare: Renewed tensions between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East led to increased market volatility. Concerns about potential disruptions to oil supplies contributed to the anxiety.

CPI data resets interest rate expectations: As US Consumer Price data ticked higher for the month at 0.4%, this pushed the annualised rate to 3.5% - separate data showing an acceleration in labour costs.

Headlines and Market-Moving Events:UK FTSE 100 outperforms: Given its higher weighting to financials and materials stocks, the UK outperformed its tech heavy peers in the US.

Japanese Yen Weakness: The Yen touched 160 against the USD, as the Bank of Japan kept rate policy as was – they expressed some concern that currency weakness can import inflation, reducing real wage growth.

Higher for Longer: As investors embraced the higher for longer narrative, US 10 Yield bonds hit 4.70%, the highest since 2023. scrutinized company earnings reports more closely, with some companies falling short of expectations and contributing to the overall market decline.

Other Asset Classes

Fixed Income: Bond yields rose significantly as investors sought the safety of fixed-income instruments. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield climbed to nearly 4.7% during the month.

Currencies: The U.S. Dollar strengthened against major currencies as investors sought safe-haven assets in response to geopolitical tensions and inflation concerns.

Commodities: Commodities bucked the trend during the month, the S&P GSCI Index advancing with higher prices in industrial and precious metals offsetting modest falls elsewhere. Crude was stable whilst coffee and wheat prices were higher.

Precious Metals: Gold continued its fine form, posting a 4% gain and ending the month at US$2,307/oz. It didn’t manage to hold its high prices going into month end, perhaps reflecting slightly lower Indian demand.


April was a difficult month for equities and bonds, with interest rate sectors being hit the hardest as markets pushed back their expectations for interest rate cuts, their hands forced by a combination of hot US inflation data and weak GDP prints. Conversely, commodity prices rallied, and along renewed interest in ‘bombed out’ Chinese equities, saw Emerging Markets fare well.

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