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Blog Posts — April 4, 2024

STOXX Global 1800 extends record rally in March on economic outlook

Stocks gained for a fifth straight month in March, lifting the STOXX® Global 1800 index to a new all-time high, as investors raised their estimates for global economic growth. 

The global benchmark jumped 3.2% last month when measured in dollars and including dividends[1], for a 9% advance in the first quarter. It added 3.4% in March when measured in euros. The STOXX® World AC index rose 3.1% in the month.

The Eurozone’s EURO STOXX 50® added 4.4% in euros, while the pan-European STOXX® Europe 600 advanced 4.2%[2]. The STOXX® North America 600 gained 3.1% in dollars, while the STOXX® USA 500 rose 3%. The STOXX® Asia/Pacific 600 climbed 2.3% in dollars. The STOXX® Developed World rose 3.2% and the STOXX® Emerging Markets gained 2.2%.

Figure 1: STOXX Benchmark indices’ March risk and return

Source: STOXX. Gross returns. Data as of March 28, 2024.

Figure 2: STOXX Equity World indices’ March risk and return

Source: STOXX. Gross returns. Data as of March 28, 2024.

Germany’s DAX® rose 4.6% in the month. MDAX®, which gauges the performance of German mid-caps, increased 4.7%. 

For a complete review of all indices’ performance last month, visit our March index newsletter.

No hard landing

The US added 275,000 jobs in February, the government reported on March 8, more than the 200,000 openings that had been expected on average by economists.[3] In the Eurozone, Purchasing Managers’ Indices for February released in March suggested the industry sector is rebounding from a period of stagnation.[4] A string of economic reports has bolstered expectations that the global economy has avoided a recession amid high interest rates.  

Figure 3: Total annual % returns for STOXX World AC index


Source: STOXX. Gross returns.

Figure 4: Select STOXX benchmarks’ returns since 2023


Source: STOXX. Gross returns in dollars except for STOXX Europe 600 Index, which is in euros. Data from Dec. 30, 2022, to March 28, 2024.

Volatility little changed 

The EURO STOXX 50® Volatility (VSTOXX®), which tracks EURO STOXX 50 options prices, fell to 13.4 at the end of last month from 13.8 in February. A higher VSTOXX reading suggests investors are paying up for puts that offer insurance against stock price drops. The VDAX-New®, which measures volatility in German equities, eased to 12.8 from 12.9 in February. 

Factor investing

The Momentum signal ruled across geographies for a second straight month, according to the STOXX Factor indices (Figure 5). The Low Risk factor repeated February’s position at the bottom of the group.

Figure 5: STOXX Factor (Global) indices’ March risk and return characteristics

Source: STOXX. Gross returns. Data as of March 28, 2024.

Climate benchmarks

Among climate benchmarks, the STOXX® Global 1800 Paris-Aligned Benchmark (PAB) rose 1.6%, as did the STOXX® Global 1800 Climate Transition Benchmark (CTB). The PAB and CTB indices follow the requirements outlined by the European Commission’s climate benchmarks regulation.

Sustainability indices

The STOXX® Global 1800 ESG-X index gained 2.9% in the month. The STOXX® ESG-X indices are versions of traditional, market-capitalization-weighted benchmarks that observe standard responsible exclusions

Within indices that combine exclusions and best-in-class ESG integration, the EURO STOXX 50® ESG index rose 4.7%. Germany’s DAX® 50 ESG index (+4%), which excludes companies involved in controversial activities and integrates ESG scoring into stock selection, lagged the benchmark DAX’s return in the month.

The STOXX® Global 1800 SRI advanced 3.8%. The STOXX SRI indices apply a rigorous set of carbon emission intensity, compliance and involvement screens, and track the best ESG performers in each industry group within a selection of STOXX benchmarks. 

Finally, the DAX® ESG Screened added 3.9% in the month. The index reflects the composition of the DAX benchmark minus companies that fail to pass norms-based and controversial weapons screenings, meet minimum ESG ratings or are involved in certain business activities considered undesirable from a responsible investing perspective. 

Thematics, dividend strategies

Only nine of 35 STOXX® Thematic indices outperformed the benchmark STOXX Global 1800 last month. The STOXX® Global Copper and Metals Mining (16%) and STOXX® Global Copper Miners (16.2%) indices stood out with double-digit gains in the month.  

Dividend strategies rebounded from two months of losses. The STOXX® Global Maximum Dividend 40 (+4.1% on a net basis) selects only the highest-dividend-yielding stocks. The STOXX® Global Select Dividend 100 (+3.9%) tracks companies with sizeable dividends but also applies a quality filter such as a history of stable payments.

Minimum variance

Minimum variance strategies failed to match the benchmarks’ returns last month against the market’s bullish backdrop. The STOXX® Global 1800 Minimum Variance rose 2.7% and the STOXX® Global 1800 Minimum Variance Unconstrained added 2.6%. 

The STOXX Minimum Variance Indices come in two versions. A constrained version has similar exposure to its market-capitalization-weighted benchmark but with lower risk. The unconstrained version, on the other hand, has more freedom to fulfill its minimum variance mandate within the same universe of stocks.

[1] All results are total returns before taxes unless specified.

[2] Throughout the article, all European indices are quoted in euros, while global, North America, US, Japan and Asia/Pacific indices are in US dollars.

[3] FT, “US jobs figures beat forecasts but downgrades complicate outlook,” March 8, 2024.

[4] Reuters, “Euro zone business activity moves closer to recovery, PMI survey shows,” March 5, 2024.