April was a tale of developed vs EM, S&P says

S&P 500 reached of 1597.57 in April, and the first quarter is set to post the highest operating earnings in history, even as sales show minimal growth, resulting in near record margins.

According to the provider, big-cap issues have been able to produce record bottom-line growth with minimal top-line growth. “Squeezing more from less now appears to be the normal operating procedure,” S&P said.

April continued March’s tale of developed verses emerging markets, as the European issues gained due to a temporary solution to Cyprus, whilst Japan continued to outperform, as investors bid up stocks in their appreciation of the Japanese stimulus program.
In emerging markets, Malaysia added 4.07%, moving its YTD return into positive territory (up 3.42%), as Hungary gained 7.61%, but was still negative for the year-to-date (off 1.60%). Peru declined the most, off 11.60% (off 13.72% YTD), as mining and mineral issues declined.
“The U.S. has been the island of safety, and as growth falters abroad, U.S. growth appears steady, but slow. The Japanese market appears to be the result of built-up expectations (decades) for the current stimulus program,” S&P said.

Apple and Exxon both declared billion dollar dividend increases during the month (as did Wells Fargo). Apple took the lead from Exxon as the largest payer, and the two battled back-and-forth, not only for the top market position, but also to see who can return the most to shareholders.

“In April, 34 of the 46 global markets posted gains, producing an overall gain of 2.50%. However, the split was anything but equitable: developed markets added 2.66% for the month, as emerging gained 1.27%. The year-to-date (YTD) numbers were even more distinct, as developed were up 10.20% compared to emerging being up 3.00%,” the firm said.

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