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Apr 04, 2024

March 2024

Equities continued their rally from February with modest gains in March. The S&P 500 rose 3.2% in March, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 2.2%, and the NASDAQ tacked on 1.9%. Small-caps bested large-caps in March, as the Russell 2000 rose 3.6% while the Russell 1000 added 3.2%. In terms of style boxes, however, large-cap value stocks (IWD) had the best month with a 5% gain.

The only negative sector in March was Consumer Discretionary. XLY was in the red by just 0.07%, and this comes after leading all sectors in February with a 7.9% gain. The leader was Energy (10.5%), followed by Utilities and Materials, with gains of 6.6% and 6.5%, respectively.

Existing home sales leaped 9.5% higher in March, while new single-family home sales barely rose. The increase in sale activity lifted the median price of existing homes for the first time in eight months. The ISM manufacturing PMI entered expansion territory for the first time in 18 months. Though inflation increased slightly and core inflation deceased for the 11th straight month, gold surged to a new all-time high.

Treasury yield activity was largely muted this month. The 6-month treasury bill rose eight basis points, the most of any duration. All treasury instruments with durations of 2 years or longer saw their yields fall, but no individual decline was greater than six basis points.

The lack of yield activity translated into little movement among bond fund performances. The iShares iBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD) posted a 1.5% increase, the most of any bond fund on the chart below.

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