U.S. stocks marched higher in the first quarter, with the S&P 500 pushing through 17 new highs and reaching 4,000 for the first time. “Risk-on” sentiment is being driven by what investors and consumers see as the longawaited economic reopening, improving and accelerating economic data, and arguably the greatest fiscal stimulus experiment in the country’s history. The latest stimulus installment, at $1.9 trillion, amounts to a staggering 9% of GDP
2020 was a remarkable year everyone will remember in different ways, but mostly for its challenges, hardships, and persistent uncertainties. We are looking forward to the new year. Much like everything that took place in 2020, the stock market also seemingly defied norms and reality. As noted in a November Bloomberg article, “punishment has been swift for almost any skeptical [investment] instinct in 2020. Views that seem logical on their face – that the election would sow pain, that a recession would kill the rally, that the pandemic would ruin the economy – immediately became money losers.”
The S&P 500 index finished the third quarter up a solid +8.5%, even with a choppy September. Together with Q2, the S&P 500 has risen by almost +30% in six months, delivering its best two-quarter performance since 2009. Meanwhile, tech shares continue to be the darlings of the recovery—the Technology sector was up +12.0% in Q3 and is leading all sectors for the year with a +28.7% return. With technology making up over 20% of the S&P 500, and with a handful of tech stocks leading the charge higher, it is increasingly important for active managers to identify and overweight market leaders.