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Month in the Markets: April 2024

A round-up of the latest month in the markets.
Image that says 'a Month in the Markets: April 2024'
Reading time: 6 mins

The Month in a Minute

📰 Overall: April was a difficult month across markets, assets, and our Plans — as economies reacted to the pulling back of interest rate cut expectations.

💪 Benchmark Performance: Wealthify’s Original Adventurous Plan outperformed its benchmark, but lower-risk plans struggled. Ethical Plans all underperformed as growth and tech stocks dropped.

📈 Market Movers: UK 100 (+2.6%); UK 250 (+1.3%)

🗒️ Plan Summary: Original Plans with a higher allocation to shares performed better than those with a higher allocation to bonds. The opposite was seen with Ethical, as Plans with a higher allocation to bonds performed better than those with a higher allocation to shares.

🌍 Original Plans: Shares (-0.8%) and bonds (-1.9%) both declined.

🌱 Ethical Plans: Shares (-2.6%) and bonds (-1.8%) both declined.

🕰️ Going Forward: Whilst we continue to favour bonds, recent pullbacks in markets have presented opportunities for us to cautiously add back to equities which we hope to benefit from. We remain confident in our cautious positioning overall and are optimistic that the diverse set of opportunities we’ve selected will continue to have a positive effect on Plans in 2024 (whilst still providing protection if economic conditions deteriorate).

Uncertain market conditions and stubborn inflation cast doubt on the likelihood of interest rate cuts

It was a tough month for many developed markets at the beginning of the second quarter as rising US inflation and the higher-for-longer narrative became prevalent once again. There was a significant change in the sentiment from the Federal Reserve on the timescale of upcoming rate cuts, as we saw US inflation rise to 3.5% year on year. During the first quarter of 2024, many were expecting as many 3 or 4 rate cuts by the end of the year; now expectations are down to one, if any at all.

As everything rose with the previously seen ‘everything rally’, this month we saw the majority of assets pull back. Typically shares performed better than bonds. Shares in our Ethical Plans did suffer though as value outperformed growth and the deteriorating interest rate outlook caused the pull back of tech, which was the worst-performing sector in April. Due to the nature of our Ethical Plans investing in sustainable companies, many of these are growth companies and very tech focused.

The resurgence of value did benefit us in our UK position though. Energy companies such as Shell, gained over 6% and helped push the FTSE 100 to all-time highs. As the current US inflation problem isn’t shared by the UK, the markets here have had a more optimistic month. With UK inflation dropping to 3.2%, unemployment up to 4.2%, and retail sales showing a 0% increase month on month, many expect a rate cut in August, maybe even as early as June.

Elsewhere, Chinese markets (contrary to the rest of the world) have had a very strong month. Improvements in China’s economy and earnings growth is driving cautious optimism that the world’s second biggest stock market could be approaching a revival after years of underperformance. China’s GDP grew by 5.3% (year-on-year) in Q1 of this year — above analyst expectations — and above Beijing’s ambitious target of 5% for 2024. Even China’s troubled property companies (some of which are in default) have seen their stock prices surge amid policy support from the government — with many betting there is more still to come. This strong performance is likely to attract more fund inflows over the next few months for 'fear of missing out'. And with valuations still low for Chinese stocks, there could be plenty more upside to go.

This pull back though by global markets has been expected for some time at Wealthify and is the reason why we have been favouring bonds over shares for most of this year. This lowering of equity prices has given us an opportunity to now cautiously add back to equities that we believe will continue to benefit from the momentum of 2024's markets so far — taking advantage of this short-term volatility. We continue to exercise caution, but this increase in equities will stand us in good stead if the ‘soft landing’ scenario is achieved.


UK 100 (+2.6%) and UK 250 (+1.3%) were some of the standout performers this month and the only market to deliver substantial returns as large caps broke all-time highs due to optimism about potential rate cuts in June.

Emerging Markets (+0.3%) and Asia Pacific (+0.3%) posted modest returns and Europe (-0.7%) and Japan (-0.9%) posted mild losses, but the worst performers for the month was the US (-4.0%). This was due to the pulling back of interest rate expectations and economic data reflecting some stubborn inflation.

Some of the largest returns though, were seen from China. As markets in Hong Kong (+7.4%) saw inflows of big money taking profits from strong-performing markets (such as the US and Japan) as they looked to capitalise on the rebound of undervalued markets.


In currency markets, sterling weakened against the dollar this month by 1.1%, due to the cooling off of expectations around the US interest rate cut. Overall though, it was a strong month for sterling, as it appreciated against the majority of other currencies (including the euro by 0.1%). The biggest gains though, came against the yen, appreciating by 3.1%, as the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced it would hold interest rates steady and that further interest rate increases weren’t imminent. This induced a further sell-off of the yen, putting more pressure on the currency.

Investment type performance breakdown

As the majority of markets delivered negative returns this month, shares declined in our Original (-0.8%) and our Ethical (-2.6%) Plans. For the most part, shares performed better than bonds; but this was not the case for Ethical, where shares were hurt due to the pulling back of large tech stock such as Nvidia and Microsoft (which constitute a large proportion of our US funds holdings).

The decline of US (-4.0%) and Japanese (-0.9%) markets hurt our sizeable allocation to these regions. Whilst our healthy allocation to the UK markets was a key positive, being where some of the few gains were seen, they were unable to offset this wider decline as a whole.

Within our Original Plans, the deteriorating interest rate outlook was also challenging for property (-3.75%), becoming our worst detractor. This also proved difficult for our preference for the more 'interest rate sensitive' longer-dated bonds; as bonds provided negative returns for Original (-1.9%) and Ethical Plans (-1.77%).
The money market continues to benefit from higher interest rates though, providing positive returns for both Ethical and Original Plans.

Summary with Plan details

Due to April’s uncertain market conditions, Plans with a higher allocation to shares performed better than those with a higher allocation to bonds. As previously noted, this was not the case for Ethical Plans, where shares suffered due to the pulling back of large tech stocks.

Our Investment Team continues to actively monitor the financial markets and their impact on Plans — and are always ready to act in your best interest as events unfold. We are continually evaluating new market information and key market drivers to help keep your Investment Plan on track.

It’s important to remember that it’s normal for markets to go up and down, with periods of volatility to be expected when you invest. As always, we continue to look for opportunities to best position your investments, with the goal of protecting your money and achieving your long-term objectives.

With investing your capital is at risk, the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

Wealthify does not provide financial advice. Please seek financial advice if you are unsure about investing.

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