As the first month of the second quarter winds down, an interesting (momentary?) change in long-standing trends has taken place in the equity markets. What have mostly been the best performing sectors of the past four years have underperformed in April and what have been mostly the worst performing sectors over the past four years have outperformed. This is especially true for developed market equities but holds to a certain extent for emerging market equities as well. As always, this data is on equal-weighted, USD basis.
The best performing sector in the developed markets has been the energy sector and its not even close. The energy sector is up nearly 11.5% MTD, while the second best performing sector is up only 5.7% (telecom). This surge in April has brought energy returns back into positive territory (barely) over the past four years. So what is the worst performing sector MTD? You guessed it, health care. Health care which is up a remarkable 155% over the past four years is only 2% higher in April. Consumer discretionary, information technology and consumer staples, are the three worst performing sectors MTD and they are the three best performing sectors over the past four years as well.
In the emerging world, the energy sector again is the best performing sector as it has gained over 13% MTD. However, breadth in the emerging markets is stronger as industrials, utilities, materials, and financials are all at least 10% higher MTD. These five sectors, however, are the worst performing sectors over the past four years.
The question facing investors is are we at a significant turning point in equity leadership? Or is April just another example of every dog having its day?