Equity markets continued to rally throughout most of April as the fight against coronavirus continued. At the time of writing, more than 34 million people in the UK have received their first vaccination dose, while more than 14 million have been given their second dose. The US is making similar progress, with 147.5 million people – almost half of the population – having received at least one dose according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However the virus outbreak has been worsening in India, with case numbers and deaths hitting record levels over the last couple of weeks. While most equity markets posted significant gains for the month, the IISL Nifty 50 INR index, which measures Indian stocks, slipped -0.48% in April.
Here is the full round-up of April market performance. In the UK, the FTSE 100 index gained 4.11%, while medium and smaller companies, measured by the FTSE 250 ex IT index and the FTSE Small Cap ex IT index respectively, rose 5.03% and 6.14% respectively. In the US, the S&P 500 USD index climbed 5.34% while in Europe the Eurostoxx 50 EUR index gained 1.93%. Japanese stocks measured by the Topix JPY index slipped 2.84%.
Emerging markets mostly performed well during the month, with the MSCI Emerging Markets index rising 1.62% in local currencies. Chinese equities measured by the MSCI China local index put on 1.16%. Latin American equities, measured by the MSCI Latin America local currency index, gathered 0.86% but Indian stocks, measured by the Nifty 50 INR PR index, dropped 0.48%.
In the fixed income market, UK government bonds, measured by the FTSE Gilts All Stocks index, lifted 0.54%. Long dated (over 15 years to maturity) gilts climbed 1.20%. Sterling denominated corporate bonds, measured by the Markit iBoxx Sterling Corporates index, rose 0.80%. In the high yield market, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Sterling High Yield index picked up 0.84%.
Commodities had a positive month overall. The S&P GSCI USD index, which consists of a basket of commodities including oil, metals and agricultural items, surged 8.23%. The dollar price of a crude oil futures contract ramped up 7.14%. The precious metals both saw gains as the S&P GSCI Gold and Silver indices returned 3.04% and 5.33% in USD respectively. In the agricultural markets, corn and wheat prices rocketed 22.97% and 19.58% in USD respectively.
In the currency markets, the pound had a mixed month as it appreciated 0.28% against the US dollar but declined 2.20% versus the euro and 1.04% against the yen.