Stocks surged in Q1… here’s what we’re seeing in Q2

May 7, 2024  |  Doug Frawley

The first quarter of 2024 painted a picture of strength and resilience in the stock market, as indices soared and investor confidence remained high despite elevated interest rates.

As we move deeper into Q2, let’s examine the market dynamics that have shaped the previous months and look toward what’s in store for the remainder of the second quarter.

The stock market witnessed significant gains in Q1, with the S&P 500 leading the charge with returns up around 10%. Tech stocks, particularly those within the artificial intelligence (AI) sector, were at the forefront of this ascent, capitalizing on the digital era’s expansive growth. Not to be outdone, value stocks also made a notable comeback, diversifying the rally across the market spectrum.

The bond market, however, faced its own challenges while grappling with anticipated delays in Federal Reserve rate cuts. This expectation triggered losses among bond funds, especially those sensitive to interest rate fluctuations. Nonetheless, corporate bonds and credit investment strategies saw improved performance, thanks to the overall resilience of the economy.

The stock market’s strength was supported by a strong labor market and robust consumer spending, which helped cushion the impact of inflation concerns and aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

Despite persistent inflation concerns and aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, historical trends suggest that pauses in rate cuts often bode well for market performance.

What’s in Store for Q2

While the market initially braced for a series of rate cuts in 2024, J. Powell’s recent statements at last week’s Fed meeting now indicate fewer, if any, cuts will occur given the positive economic growth and a slowdown in disinflation.

Projections for corporate earnings are optimistic, showing an increase of 11% for 2024 and 13% for 2025, fueling optimism for sustained company performance.

The bullish momentum extended beyond large-cap equities, with improved market breadth as small and mid-cap indices demonstrated strong gains, indicating a wide-ranging rally.

Investors witnessed a mix of fortunes, with success stories like Advance Auto Parts and NRG Energy contrasted by the struggles of companies such as Sabre, SunPower, and Arcadium.

Mutual funds concentrated on growth stocks fared well, while value-focused funds began showing signs of vitality. Pimco Total Return stood out in the bond arena, while Metropolitan West Total Return faced headwinds.

Cryptocurrency markets also caught investors’ attention as Bitcoin approached record highs, propelled by factors including the approval of Bitcoin ETFs and the anticipated “halving.”

Gold prices peaked as well, underscoring the complexities of market sentiment amid geopolitical tensions and the Fed’s potential easing of monetary policy.

As we push further into the second quarter, continuous evaluation of market performance will be crucial. Opportunities within attractive stock sectors are expected to emerge, guided by expert insights and analysis. However, the interplay between inflation, interest rate policy, and corporate performance will continue to shape the market trajectory.

The first quarter of 2024 showcased the resilience of the financial markets, presenting a blend of challenges and triumphs. As investors look ahead, navigating the evolving landscape with informed strategies will be key to capitalizing on emerging opportunities and trends.

Until next time,

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