Global stocks (MSCI ACWI) fell 13.4% in March. Regionally, Europe was the weakest with steep drops notably in Italy (FTSE MIB, -22.4%), at the epicenter of the European COVID crisis, and France (CAC 40, -17.0%). Canadian stocks also nosedived (S&P TSX, -17.4%), but that’s a lot better than the 31% intra-month maximum pain before retracing some losses. U.S. stocks outperformed most regions again as the S&P 500 fell 12.4%. Meanwhile, the tech heavy Nasdaq 100 lost only 7.6% to end the quarter down about 10% while several regional benchmarks are down between 20 and 30% year-to-date. Finally, EM stocks (MSCI EM, -15.6%) also endured pain as Brazilian stocks collapsed 30% in March.
The storm hit fixed-income markets as well across all segments until central banks took out their quantitative easing (QE) bazookas and a series of emergency rate cuts to calm markets. The yield on Canada’s 10-yr government bonds dropped 44bp in March, down 101bp for the year. The loonie, whose value heavily depends on the price of oil, lost 4.8% as investors scrambled for the USD (+0.9%) and oil prices registered their worse month (-54%) since futures contract began trading on Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) in 1983.