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March 2024 Market Commentary & Outlook


March kicked off with a strong jobs report followed by data showing that inflation was still sitting above the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) target of 2%. As a result, the Fed left its target interest rate unchanged during its March meeting. However, the Fed still projects as many as three separate quarter percent rate cuts to occur in 2024. Treasury yields fell through the month, and bond prices climbed leading to positive performance for fixed income. The European Central Bank held rates steady as well, citing inflation and price pressures remaining elevated.

On the equity side, international stocks posted solid gains, though trailed US stocks over the month and quarter. In the US, small cap stocks outperformed large caps as performance from the mega-cap stocks that had previously led the way cooled. Several US stock indices hit record highs during the month.

The first quarter saw steady gains in equity markets with the US stock market posting its best quarter since 2019. The lack of volatility thus far has been a luxury and there are plenty of market movers on the horizon between Q1 earnings reports, inflation readings, actions from the Fed, and the upcoming presidential election.

Index Performance March Q1 Trailing 12 Months
US Stocks (Russell 3000) 3.23% 10.02% 29.29%
Foreign Stocks (FTSE AW ex US) 3.01% 4.54% 13.99%
US Bond Mkt. (BBgBarc Int. Gov/Cred) 0.64% -0.15% 2.69%
Cash (ICE BofA ML 3-Mo T-Bill) 0.45% 1.20% 4.85%