Markets End Winning Quarter With Gains

Table showing the performance of major U.S. financial indexes on March 31, 2023


Key Takeaways

  • U.S. stock markets closed out the first quarter of 2023 on a positive note as a key inflation indicator boosted optimism that the Fed would ease its interest rate hikes.
  • The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq were up more than 1% on Friday, and all three indexes ended with gains for March and for the first three months of the year.
  • The Nasdaq soared 16.8% during the first quarter of 2023, marking its strongest quarterly performance since 2020.

U.S. equities ended the day, month, and quarter on a high note on March 31, 2023, after the Fed's preferred inflation gauge came in lower than expected, lifting optimism that policymakers might tamp down their aggressive interest rate increases designed to curb rising prices. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq were up more than 1% and posted a third straight winning session. All three gained in March, and for the first three months of 2023, the Dow advanced 0.4%, the S&P 500 picked up 7%, and the Nasdaq skyrocketed 16.8%, its best quarter since 2020.

All but one stock in the Dow were in positive territory, with the inflation news lifting shares of retailers Home Depot (HD), Nike (NKE), and Walmart (WMT). Tech stocks got a boost as well. Shares of Intel (INTC) rose for a fourth straight day, adding more than 11% in the process. Salesforce (CRM) and IBM (IBM) shares gained 1%. All the FAAMG stocks were higher.

Tesla (TSLA) shares soared 6% following a report that the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer wants to build a battery plant in the U.S. with China's CATL, the world's biggest maker of EV batteries. Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corporation (DWAC), the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) tied to Donald Trump, jumped 7.5% on word of the former president's indictment.

Regional Banks Struggle

It was another tough session for many regional bank stocks. Shares of Comerica (CMA), Zions Bancorporation (ZION), and Citizens Financial Group (CFG) tumbled. Micron Technology (MU) shares slumped after China said that it was reviewing the chipmaker's products for cybersecurity risks. 

A downgrade from Bank of America sent Generac Holdings (GNRC) shares sinking. Virgin Orbit Holdings (VORB) shares plunged 41% to an all-time low after Sir Richard Branson's satellite launch company paused operations and slashed 85% of its workforce. Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) was the only stock in the Dow in negative territory.

Oil futures picked up 1.5%. Gold prices declined. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped. The U.S. dollar rose against the euro, pound, and yen. Major cryptocurrencies traded higher.

Table showing the S&P 500 stocks with the biggest gains and losses on March 31, 2023


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