Global equity markets rose for the fourth consecutive month in April, as the S&P 500 recorded a new high for the first time since last September. At a regional level US and European equities were the best performers, while Japan and Emerging markets delivered more modest returns. At a sector level financials and technology stocks led the gains over the course of the month. Bond markets, meanwhile, took a step back after a strong first-quarter performance, and the US dollar appreciated against most major currencies.
Global growth in the first quarter appears to have slowed to around 3.2% from a peak of 4% this time last year. Although weaker GDP and trade growth are broad based, the outlook for individual economies is becoming more disparate. Globally, manufacturing PMIs in Japan, France, Germany and the eurozone were mostly subdued, but could experience a lift in the coming months given optimistic industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment data from China last month. Meanwhile US Q1 GDP surprised on the upside, growing at an annualised quarterly rate of 3.2%. Overall investors welcomed the confirmation that growth is not stalling.
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