Market Review – April 2024


UK economy rebounds: having slipped into recession in the final three months of 2023, the UK economy posted month-on-month growth of 0.2% in January, raising hopes that the economy may be picking up. Activity was boosted by growth of 0.2% in the services sector. The FTSE 100 Index rose by 4.2% over March and by 2.8% during the first three months of the year. Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 Index posted a monthly gain of 4.4% and a quarterly increase of 1%.

No sign of a rate cut yet: as expected, the Bank of England (BoE) maintained its key base rate at 5.25%; nevertheless, expectations of a cut later this year continue to grow. The BoE expects inflationary pressures to continue to moderate, but also warned that supply chain disruptions, caused by ongoing conflict in the Middle East, could drive up prices.

Inflation eases: the annualised rate of consumer price inflation dropped from 4% in January to 3.4% in February, slowing to its lowest rate since September 2021. Although housing and energy costs rose, they were offset by lower prices for items including food and non-alcoholic drinks, alcohol and tobacco, and clothing and footwear. Elsewhere, UK consumer confidence stagnated during March, according to GfK’s consumer confidence index; on a brighter note, UK consumers’ expectations for their personal finances moved into positive territory for the first time since December 2021.

Flight to safety: UK funds experienced an unprecedented second consecutive year of outflows last year, as withdrawals of £26.9 billion in 2022 were followed by a slightly lower total of £24.3 billion in 2023. Investor sentiment was affected by economic uncertainty, the cost-of-living crisis, and high interest rates. According to the Investment Association (IA), net inflows to money market, fixed income, and tracker funds were more than offset by outflows from equity funds; in particular, UK equity funds suffered record annual outflows of £14 billion, representing an eighth straight year of outflows. Responsible funds also fell from favour, experiencing outflows totalling £3 billion over the year.

Banks underpinned dividend growth in 2023: dividend payouts from UK companies posted underlying growth of 5.4% during 2023, and over 80% of companies maintained or increased their payment, according to Janus Henderson’s latest Global Dividend Index. Overall growth in dividends was underpinned by a strong contribution from the banking sector.



Fed remains cautious: as expected, the Federal Reserve (Fed) maintained its key federal funds rate at a range of 5.25% to 5.5% in March. Against a backdrop of increasingly heightened speculation over the timing of possible cuts, the Fed emphasised that it intends to remain cautious and focus on data, although a first cut is still widely expected in the summer. 

Dow hits fresh highs: inflationary pressures picked up slightly in the US during February, and the rate of CPI inflation edged up from 3.1% year on year in January to 3.2% in February. The rate of unemployment in the US rose from 3.7% to 3.9% in February, representing its highest level for two years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index climbed by 5.1% in March, registering three fresh closing highs during the month. Over the first quarter, the Dow rose by 5.6%.

ECB focuses on data: although the European Central Bank (ECB) left its key interest rate unchanged, speculation over the possible timing of a rate cut continued to preoccupy investors. Nevertheless, ECB President Christine Lagarde insisted she would “not commit to any kind of pace, rhythm, magnitude, because we will continue to be data dependent”. The eurozone’s rate of inflation fell from 2.8% to 2.6% year on year, and Switzerland caused a flurry by cutting its key rate from 1.75% to 1.5%. The Dax Index increased by 4.6% during the month and by 10.4% over the year to date.

BoJ makes its move: the Bank of Japan (BoJ) raised rates for the first time in 17 years during March, increasing its key rate from -0.1% to a range of 0% to 0.1%. The central bank also ended its yield curve control policy. The BoJ’s generally accommodative tone drove the Nikkei 225 Index to fresh highs; meanwhile, the yen fell to its lowest level against the US dollar for over thirty years. Elsewhere, having contracted during the third calendar quarter of 2023, Japan’s economy sidestepped recession by posting growth of 0.4% during the final three months of the year.

Nikkei breaches 40,000: having finally surpassed its previous high set in 1989 during February, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Index breached 40,000 points for the first time ever during March. The Nikkei 225 Index rose by 3.1% during March and by 20.6% over the quarter.

As ever, if you have any questions regarding your investments, please do not hesitate to contact us by calling +44 (0) 7917 390 344  or emailing me at and we will be happy to talk to you.