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Advisors - April 5, 2021

Monthly Market Wrap: March 2021

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You know the old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? That certainly applies to 2020’s ten worst performers from the S&P 500 index. Shares of Carnival Corp (CCL), Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY), United Airlines Holdings (UAL), Marathon Oil Corp (MRO), HollyFrontier Corp (HFC), Diamondback Energy Inc (FANG), NOV Inc (NOV), American Airlines Group Inc (AAL), and Schlumberger Ltd (SLB) are all much higher through Q1 2021. Four of those names are top ten performers across the entire S&P 500 for Q1.

Q1 2021 Performances of 2020 Bottom 10 S&P stocks

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Also this month, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the March 2020 market bottom. Little did we know how much the world, our daily habits, and our portfolios, would be changed. Some stocks lost over half their value in a matter of days (looking at you, Carnival Corp and United Airlines Holdings). But, since the bottom through the end of March 2021 the Dow is up 77.4%, the S&P 500 77.6%, and the NASDAQ a whopping 93.1%. Goes to show how important staying invested is, no matter how dire things look.

As the sun sets on the first quarter of 2021, we’ll focus on these key developments in March:

Off the YCharts! Changing of the Guard

Major Index Returns: Mixed Bag

Sector Movement: 11 out of 11 Winners in March

Hot Stocks of the Month: Consumer Sentiment Charges Higher

Laggards & Losers: Communication, Oil Slump

Economic Data: Single Family Home Sales Plummet

Off the YCharts! Changing of the Guard

The big story of 2020 (and the last decade) was growth’s outperformance over value. However, in March the tables turned—value is up 10.8% after Q1 2021, while growth is about flat. Value is experiencing surging levels of trading activity, too.

Price and 30-day average moving volume changes, iShares Russell 1000 Value and iShares Russell 1000 Growth for Q1 2021

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Major Index Returns: Mixed Bag

S&P 500, NASDAQ, Major Index Returns for March 2021

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The S&P 500 rose 4.4% and the NASDAQ finished just 0.5% higher as fears of rising treasury rates suppressed returns and the rotation from growth into value continued. Internationally, Developed Markets were up 2.4%, and Emerging Markets lost 1.5%. High yield corporate bonds were flat in March, while the Global Aggregate Bond Index fell another 1.9%, marking its third straight losing month.

Sector Movement: 11 out of 11 Winners in March

SPDR ETF Sector Movement, March 2021

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All 11 sectors posted positive gains in March. Taking the cake was Utilities with a 10.6% uptick, with Industrials right behind at 9% and Consumer Staples in a close third, rising 8.5%. Technology cooled off in March with just a 1.8% increase, as did Communication Services and Energy, which were up 2.6% and 3%, respectively, as rising interest rates likely swayed more money out of growth sectors and into value.

Hot Stocks of the Month: Ten Best Performers

Top ten performing stocks for March 2021

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The US Index of Consumer Sentiment jumped from 76.8 in February to 84.9 in March—its highest level since March 2020. This positive sentiment helped send shares of consumer cyclical companies Lennar Corp (LEN), AutoZone Inc (AZO), WestRock Co (WRK), and Gap Inc (GPS) higher. Bullish bets on an economic comeback, along with investors rotating into value, vaulted Nucor Corp (NUE), Kansas City Southern (KSU), and Boeing Co (BA) to higher levels.

Top stocks across a range of sectors, including The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc (HIG), DXC Technology Corp (DXC), and Dentsply Sirona Inc (XRAY) round out March’s ten best performers.

Laggards & Losers: Ten Worst Performers

Worst performing stocks, March 2021

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Multiple analyst downgrades and liquidation from Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management pulled shares of ViacomCBS Inc (VIAC) down 30% in March. Investors also dumped fellow communication services stocks Discovery Inc (DISCA) and Twitter Inc (TWTR) on the news. Crude oil prices rose rapidly in early March only to give those gains back, sending shares of energy companies Baker Hughes Co (BKR), APA Corp (APA) and NOV Inc (NOV) lower. Penn National Gaming (PENN) was down 9.5% in March, despite being added to the S&P 500 and child company Barstool Sports launching a sportsbook in our home state of Illinois in time for March Madness.

Healthcare companies Illumina Inc (ILMN) and DexCom Inc (DXCM), as well as capital markets firm MarketAxess Holdings Inc (MKTX) also made the cut for March’s ten worst performers.

Financial Market & Advisor News

Impact of Rising Rates on the Mortgage Market (FactSet)

Harness Volatility & Create Opportunity (YCharts)

Investor appetite for ETFs on the rise: Schwab (InvestmentNews)

Good Economic News Is Becoming a Double-Edged Sword for Markets (WealthManagement.com)

What to Look for in Value vs. Growth Stocks (YCharts)

Biden Unveils $2 Trillion Infrastructure and Jobs Plan (Barron’s)

Economic Data 


March’s unemployment rate clocked in at 6.0%, the lowest level since April 2020. Initial jobless claims fluctuated throughout March but ended lower month over month at 719,000.

Production and Sales

US Retail and Food Services Sales were off in February, falling 3.0% after January’s uptick. Durable goods orders were down 1.1%, marking the first fall since April 2020.


US New Single Family Houses Sold plummeted by 18.3% in February, while Existing Home Months’ Supply ticked up slightly to 2.0. The US house price index was down 0.2% in February.

US New Single Family Houses Sold MoM, US Existing Home Months' Supply, US House Price Index MoM from April 30th, 2018 to February 28th, 2021

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Prices and spending were a mixed bag in February. The US Consumer Price Index dipped a slight 0.1% from January, while consumer spending (PCE) rose by the same amount.


Have a great April! 📈

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