Home etftrends.com BIG NUMBER: 21.4% – Can Stocks Keep Running?

BIG NUMBER: 21.4% – Can Stocks Keep Running?

First-quarter returns suggest the market may have more to give.

Stocks went out like a lion in March, with the S&P 500 hitting its 22nd record high so far this year and delivering a 10.2% return for the quarter.

Can investors expect more of the same? Historically, there have been 11 years since 1950 in which the S&P 500 has gained more than 10% during the first quarter (not counting 2024).

  • In 10 of those 11 instances—90.9%—stocks finished the year even higher (see the chart).
  • Stocks gained 21.4% on average during those 10 calendar years (see the chart), versus just 7.2% on average for all other years since 1950.

Source: Bloomberg, calculations by Horizon Investments, as of 04/01/2024. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

The one time stocks didn’t build on their 10%+ first-quarter gain was 1987, which saw the infamous Black Monday market crash. Even so, stocks still ended the year in positive territory (up 2%).

Of course, there’s no guarantee the past’s winning ways will repeat in 2024. But there’s a lot to be said about what first-quarter momentum could mean for stock returns going forward—something we pointed out at the start of this year.

Capturing those potential returns requires getting off the sidelines and into the game—something investors holding excess cash may want to consider as we start a new quarter.

For more news, information, and analysis, visit the ETF Strategist Channel.


The S&P 500 or Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a market-capitalization-weighted index of the 500 largest U.S. publicly traded companies. References to indices, or other measures of relative market performance over a specified period of time are provided for informational purposes only. Reference to an index does not imply that any account will achieve returns, volatility or other results similar to that index. The composition of an index may not reflect the manner in which a portfolio is constructed in relation to expected or achieved returns, portfolio guidelines, restrictions, sectors, correlations, concentrations, volatility or tracking error targets, all of which are subject to change. Indices are unmanaged and do not have fees or expense charges, both of which would lower returns. It is not possible to invest directly in an unmanaged index.

This commentary is written by Horizon Investments’ asset management team. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Nothing contained herein should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. This report does not attempt to examine all the facts and circumstances that may be relevant to any company, industry, or security mentioned herein. We are not soliciting any action based on this document. It is for the general information of clients of Horizon Investments, LLC (“Horizon”). This document does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Before acting on any analysis, advice, or recommendation in this document, clients should consider whether the security in question is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Investors may realize losses on any investments. Asset allocation cannot eliminate the risk of fluctuating prices and uncertain returns. All investing involves the risk of loss. 

The investments recommended by Horizon Investments are not guaranteed. There can be economic times when all investments are unfavorable and depreciate in value. Clients may lose money. This commentary is based on public information that we consider reliable, but we do not represent that it is accurate or complete, and it should not be relied on as such. The opinions expressed herein are our opinions as of the date of this document. These opinions may not be reflected in all of our strategies. We do not intend to and will not endeavor to update the information discussed in this document. No part of this document may be (i) copied, photocopied, or duplicated in any form by any means or (ii) redistributed without Horizon’s prior written consent. Forward-looking statements cannot be guaranteed. Other disclosure information is available at www.horizoninvestments.com.

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