This is a new installment in an ongoing series where Marc Bautis and colleagues comment on hot topics in the financial industry. This week, Kayla Waller, Financial Planner, fills us in.
March 2023 Market Summary
Stocks posted a positive March with the exception of the small-cap Russell 2000 index. The NASDAQ surged 6.8%, the S&P 500 moved 3.7% higher, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.1%. Equities also finished Q1 strong, with the NASDAQ’s 17.1% quarterly gain leading the way. The NASDAQ has outperformed other major US indices in all three months of 2023, a sign of renewed favor for growth stocks. The Russell 2000 (small-caps) fell 4.8% for its second consecutive month.
The NASDAQ’s advance was in large part thanks to the Technology and Communication Services sectors. Technology jumped 10.9% higher in March, while Communication Services rose 8.7%. Stocks from these two sectors comprised all ten of the S&P 500’s top stocks in March.
The biggest laggard in March was Financials, which plummeted 9.6% as a result of the fallout surrounding Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank (FRC). The S&P 500’s ten worst performers in March were all stocks from the Financial sector as well.
US Existing Home Sales ended a year-long streak of monthly declines by soaring 14.5% in February. US New Single-Family Home Sales also rose in February by 1.1%, good for its third consecutive monthly increase. Gold nearly exceeded $2,000 per ounce in March, while both Brent and WTI oil prices continued to decline, each down over 41% from their March 2022 highs. The US ISM Manufacturing PMI sank deeper into contraction territory, sitting at 46.3 as of February’s end.
US Treasury yields retraced in March following a February where the 6-Month and 1-Year Treasury Bills eclipsed 5% for the first time since July 2007. The 2-Year note dipped the most across the curve, down 0.75% in March, while only the 1-Month T-Bill increased last month.