Market review

Quarter in review

The first quarter of 2024 was marked by continued strength for risk assets, with a number of major equity indices extending record highs. Economic data kept surprising on the upside, which lifted hopes that a recession could be avoided. Sharp upward moves in US yields weighed on global fixed income markets.

Apr 8, 2024

8 minutes

Chapters

01
Global equities
02
US
03
South Africa
04
China
05
Emerging markets
06
Europe and UK
07
Global fixed income
08
Global credit
09
EM fixed income
10
Commodities
01

Global equities

Shipping containers
Strong economic data and optimism around AI drove markets higher. Japan surged.

Global equities had another strong quarter, with several markets reaching all-time highs. That was driven by growing hopes for a soft economic landing, or even a ‘no landing’, along with ongoing optimism around AI. The S&P 500 posted consecutive double-digit gains for the first time in over a decade, while in Japan, the Nikkei saw its strongest performance since the global financial crisis, propelling it above its previous record high from 1989.

Economic data was broadly positive, which saw expectations of a recession in the US fall. However, inflation was slightly higher than expected in both January and February, which prompted the Federal Reserve to caution against cutting rates. As it stands, the market is currently pricing in three 25 basis point cuts in 2024, down from six at the turn of the year.

At the sector level, IT and communication services led the way, with energy and financials not far behind. Sectors hampered by the prospects of rates being higher for longer – namely real estate and utilities – were notable laggards.

Indices (total return in local currency)
S&P 500 10.4%
Nasdaq Composite 9.3%
MSCI ACWI 8.2%
Nikkei 225 21.4%
EuroStoxx 600 7.0%
FTSE 100 4.0%
Hang Seng Index -2.5%
SSE Composite 2.2%

Source: Bloomberg, for the quarter ending 31 March 2024.

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