Simple juxtapositions can sometimes produce insight, or so at least runs the theory behind our just-introduced monthly U.S. index dashboard: http://us.spindices.com/documents/commentary/dashboard_032813_2914.pdf. For the first quarter of 2013, e.g., we can observe that:
- The equity markets were very strong (no revelation there), with both the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 both up more than 10% and at record levels by quarter-end.
- Strangely for such a strong quarter, defensive indices outperformed the general market. S&P 500 Value topped both S&P 500 Growth and the S&P 500 (granted by only a whisker in the latter case). More interestingly, such defensive stalwarts as S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats and S&P 500 Low Volatility came in well ahead of the S&P 500.
- This pattern also turned up at the sector level. For the quarter, the best performing S&P 500 sectors were Health Care, Consumer Staples, and Utilities, all of which strike a defensive note.