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Month in the Markets: March 2024

A round-up of the latest month in the markets.
Image that says 'March 2024: a month in the markets with the Wealthify Investment Team'
Reading time: 4 mins

The Month in a Minute

📰 Overall: March was a positive month across markets, assets, and our Plans, as a strong global economy negated any potential inflation and growth concerns. 

💪 Benchmark Performance: Original Plans performed in line with benchmarks. Ethical Plans were less positive than benchmarks due to their high level of growth shares, which fell behind the wider market.

📈 Market Movers: Developed Market Shares (+3.0%).

🗒️ Plan Summary: Plans with a higher allocation to shares performed better than those with a higher allocation to bonds.  

🌍 Original Plans: Shares (+4.0%) and bonds (+1.2%) both added to returns.

🌱 Ethical Plans: Shares (+2.7%) and bonds (+1.4%) both added to returns. 

🕰️ Going Forward: We continue to favour bonds and remain confident in our cautious positioning. We’re optimistic that the diverse set of opportunities we’ve selected will continue to have a positive effect on Plans in 2024, providing protection if economic conditions deteriorate.

Broad optimism saw positive returns across all assets and Plans in March, capping off a strong quarter for global share markets, in particular. 

Investors increasingly bet on the economy maintaining a healthy pace, while inflation falls back to target — the so-called ‘soft landing’ scenario. We witnessed increased appetite for higher-risk assets in March – such as Chinese shares and Small-Cap stocks (stocks for a company with a market capitalisation between $300m and $2bn) – which generated some of the highest returns.

We continue to exercise caution when it comes to price expansion within share markets, given the restrictive nature of rates and the battle against inflation being far from over.

Bond markets also generated decent returns for investors in March, as prices clawed back some of their earlier quarter losses.

Despite headline inflation in the US (+3.2%) coming in ahead of expectations, markets continue to send prices higher on the back of strong economic growth and corporate earnings data. The one positive for US inflation was that core inflation (+3.8%) – which excludes volatile items such as food and energy – settled slightly, despite being above expectations.

Large and unpleasant inflation surprises aside, the strength of the economy continues to fuel investor confidence — and extinguish any concerns of long-term inflation concerns.

While manufacturing and services activity in the US dipped in February, the overall picture remains healthy thanks to expansion (and despite the restrictive nature of interest rates). The labour market continues to show resilience, with 275,000 jobs added in February alone.

In Europe, the economy continues to hold up better than expected under the pressure of sharp interest rate increases. Inflation (2.6%) was unchanged from the previous month and in line with expectations.

Elsewhere, services and manufacturing activity outpaced both expectations and the previous month. This is an encouraging sign for the European Central Bank (ECB), which appears to have no urgent need to stimulate the economy through rate cuts.

Closer to home, UK inflation moderated from 4% to 3.4%; core inflation also beat expectations, falling from 5.1% to 4.5%. The UK economy is also poised to emerge from the recession it entered at the end of last year.

With inflation potentially falling below target later in the year, rate cuts are likely to follow. In turn, this will most likely boost the economy — which appears to be growing healthily in 2024.


Developed market shares (+3.0%) outperformed emerging market shares (+2.2%) in March.  Chinese shares were underwhelming, as the market processed the announcement of equally disappointing policy support for its stuttering economy.

In a change of fortune from last month, the UK was the top-performing market, with the FTSE 100 (+4.2%) and FTSE 250 (+4.4%) top of the pile for March. Shares in Europe (+3.7%), Japan (+3.6), and the US (+3.1%) weren’t far behind, continuing their strong momentum as more shares showed positive returns.


Sterling was flat against both the US dollar and euro in March, as interest rate expectations were largely unchanged between the regions. In terms of other major currencies, sterling appreciated by 0.9% against the Japanese yen.

Despite the Bank of Japan (BOJ) avoiding a negative rates policy with an interest rate increase, the market remained unconvinced that its economy would be able to sustain further rate increases (at least in the short-term).

Investment type performance breakdown

Our Plans showed healthy all-round performance in March, with Original and Ethical Plans providing similarly positive returns, as shares broadly outperformed bonds.

Within Original Plans, shares delivered a return of 4.0%, while bonds (+1.2%), property (+3.5%), and infrastructure (+3.0%) all added to performance.

There was a similar story with our Ethical Plans, as shares (+2.7%) and bonds (+1.4%) strengthened performance.

Looking back at the past year up until the end of March 2024, our Plans are performing strongly against benchmark, despite our cautious approach.

Summary with Plan details

The positive returns across assets in March is a pleasing result for our Plans, which continue to benefit from numerous potential sources of return. While those with a higher allocation to shares were able to generate stronger returns, all Plans delivered positive returns.

Our Investment Team continue to actively monitor the financial markets and their impact on Plans — and are always ready to act in your best interests to events as they unfold. We are constantly evaluating new market information and drivers to 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 position your investments, with the goal of protecting your money and achieving your long-term objectives.

Please remember 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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