Quarterly Market Review: January-March 2024

The Markets (first quarter through March 29, 2024)

Wall Street got off to a fast start to begin 2024. Investors were encouraged by strength in the economy, the likelihood of interest rate cuts, possibly beginning in June, and opportunities in artificial intelligence. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted solid first-quarter gains led by the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Several indexes reached new highs throughout the quarter. The S&P 500 hit its first record high in two years late in January, leading to its best first-quarter performance since 2019. The Federal Reserve provided encouraging news following its meeting in March as it projected three interest rate cuts by the end of the year. Ten-year Treasury yields stayed around 4.20% for most of the quarter, up from 3.86% at the close of 2023. Roughly 76.0% of S&P 500 companies reported fourth-quarter corporate earnings that exceeded analysts’ expectations. Some of the “Magnificent Seven” megacap stocks stumbled a bit in the first quarter. Nevertheless they were responsible for nearly 40.0% of the S&P 500’s year-to-date gain, which is down from over 60.0% last year. Ten of the 11 market sectors posted quarterly gains, with industrials, information technology, communication services, financials, and energy climbing more than 10.0%.

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