As we noted on the last day of March, April was supposed to be the best month for stocks, with an average return since 1950 of over 2%. It wasn't.
In fact it barely managed to eek out a positive return, treading negative MTD performance until the last few days.
Still, nothing compares to the rout of the laughable Greek stock market, which after generating scorching returns in the first quarter, tumbled in April by nearly 8%, and cut its YTD gains by more than half. In fact, Greece, with its stock market where a few oddlots can move the market by more than 1%, performed worse than even Russia's stock market - the same Russia which none other than the White House speaker Jay Carney told everyone to short. Curiously, while there were no sanctions announced against Japan, the Nikkei was in danger of losing almost as much as Russian stocks in the past month.
But it wasn't all doom: among the better performers were the FTSE, the Bovespa, and a bevy of commodities such as Corn, Wheat and the broader CRB Index. Here is some additional color from Deutsche Bank:
April was a generally positive month across the board for global financial assets, although with a handful of major losers. No single asset class stood out although equities and commodities had a relatively strong month with the top performers including UK (FTSE 100, +3.1% - helped by M&A), Brazilian (Bovespa, +2.4%) and Spanish (IBEX 35, +1.6%) Equity and Corn (+2.4%), Wheat (+2.3%) and the broader Commodity index (CRB, +1.6%). YTD commodities have performed strongly with Corn (+22% YTD) and Wheat (+18% YTD) the two best performing assets and the broad CRB commodity index returning +10.5%. The rest of the 2014-so-far top 5 is made up by Peripheral European Equities with the FTSE-MIB and Portugal General returning +15% and +14% respectively.
Fixed income performance sat in the middle of the pack in April with EU Fin Sub bonds continuing to lead the way returning +1.4% on the month and +5% YTD. Other strong performers in fixed income this month were Italian and Spanish government bonds and US IG Non Fin and US Fin Sub all returning around +1% on the month. This stronger performance marks a continuation of trends seen through 2014 so far with returns on Spanish govvies at +7.1% YTD, BTP’s at +6.5% YTD and US IG Non-Fin and Fin Sub of around +4.5% YTD.
Sterling continued to perform in April with GBPUSD returning +1.3% this past month. GBPUSD returns now stand at +1.6% on the year, only being beaten in the G7 FX space by JPYUSD at +2.6%. GBPUSD’s been on a bull run since early June last year and is now around its post-2008 highs.
April has seen a few notable losers with the Greek Athex down -7.8%, the Russian Micex down -4.6% and the Nikkei down -3.5%. The weak Micex and Nikkei are continuing themes this year, now returning -13.1% and -11.5% respectively. Geopolitical risks and sanctions are continuing to weigh on Russia with fatigue impacting the Japan reflation trade. April’s weak Athex performance on the other hand marks a sharp divergence from 2014 performance pre-April as the index has given back much of it’s strong performance YTD. When we last wrote this performance review at the end of March YTD Athex performance was +15%, after April it now stands at +6%. However it is up +28%% over the past 12 months.
The full April performance by asset class:
A different pictures emerges in the YTD chart,where corn, wheat and Italy are the best performers, while Russia, Japan, Copper, Hong Kong and China round out the tail end.
Jim Reid's conclusion: "So now April's over, will it be sell in May and go away? Or buy in May and make hay.. We just made that one up. We don't expect it to catch on!"