Europe Strongest Equity Arena in March

April 7, 2006 ( - For the third consecutive month, Europe was the strongest performing developed world stock market, registering a return of 4.09% in March versus 2.24% for Asia-Pacific and 1.76% for North America, according to Standard & Poor's data.

According to a Standard & Poor’s news release, the S&P/Citigroup Developed World Index gained 2.53% in March on the heels of Europe’s outperformance.

“World economic data released in March was positive across the board,” said Nicholas Aninos, analyst at Standard & Poor’s Index Services, in the news release.  “In the US, consumer confidence levels rose, inflation remained under control and the Fed indicated that it will keep inflation in check for the foreseeable future.  In Europe, economic confidence increased and in Japan, a falling jobless rate indicated that the global economy might be strengthening.”

Smaller-cap stocks continued to push ahead in March both in relative and discrete terms.  In the developed world, only Finland, Ireland, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom saw larger-caps outperform the smaller-caps.  In the developed world for March, the S&P/Citigroup Extended Market Index gained 4.03% and the S&P/Citigroup Primary Market Index gained 2.10%, according to S&P.

In emerging markets, the European emerging market region turned on its heels in March, falling 1.17% for the month. Emerging market regions Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Mid-East Africa registered returns of -1.97%, 3.48% and 3.91% respectively.  All told, emerging markets gained 1.51% in March.  

The Materials and Telecom Services sectors as defined by GICS regained their position as top performers in March, returning 5.46%, and 4.81% respectively for the month. Energy was the next best performer with a 4.42% return for the month.

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