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The Worst March in History!

  Not only did the Covid Crisis send stocks tumbling in March throughout the world, but it also created some of the worst monthly performances for the month of March in stock market history.  It is very unusual for so many countries to register their worst performance across the globe, but this occurred in March. Global Financial Data has collected monthly performance data for 21 countries and 3 regions covering over 100 years of history.  In the majority of the countries that we cover, March 2020 was the worst performing March since 1900.  It was also the worst performing March for the World Index and the World x/USA Index. Information on the worst March for each country is provided in Table 1.  For many of the countries, GFD has data back to 1900, or even before.  March 2020 provided the worst performance for March in history in 12 of the 21 countries.  These countries included Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Spain. The worst decline was in Austria where stocks fell 24% during March. This was the first time any of the countries had had their worst month since 2012.  All of the other worst March declines were scattered throughout history ranging from 1924 in Germany to 1980 in Canada. February 2020 was the worst performing February in Belgium, Norway and in Europe as a whole.  On the other hand, April 2020 was the best performing April in Canadian history. 2020 has already proven to be a highly volatile year and given the uncertainty over how the Coronavirus will impact financial markets during the rest of the year, we cannot guarantee that more monthly records won’t be set.  

Country Index Since Year Decline
Australia Australia ASX All-Ordinaries 1840 2020 -21.51
Austria Wiener Boersekammer Share Index (WBKI) 1922 2020 -24.03
Belgium Brussels All-Share Price Index 1926 2020 -16.94
Canada Canada S&P/TSX 300 Composite 1900 1980 -18.02
Denmark OMX Copenhagen All-Share Price Index 1900 2001 -7.25
Finland OMX Helsinki All-Share Price Index 1913 2020 -16.81
France France CAC All-Tradable Index 1900 2020 -18.33
Germany Germany CDAX Composite Index 1900 1924 -24.03
India Bombay SE Sensitive Index 1693 2020 -23.05
Ireland Ireland ISEQ All-Share Price Index 1830 2020 -19.44
Italy FTSE Italia All-Share Index 1905 2020 -22.33
Japan Tokyo SE Price Index (TOPIX) 1914 1953 -19.12
Netherlands Netherlands All-Share Price Index 1914 2020 -12.19
New Zealand New Zealand SE All-Share Capital Index 1862 2020 -13.60
Norway Oslo SE OBX-25 Stock Index 1914 2020 -13.24
South Africa FTSE/JSE All-Share Index 1900 1982 -14.08
Spain Madrid SE General Index 1918 2020 -22.82
Sweden OMX Stockholm All-Share Price Index 1901 1932 -27.64
Switzerland Switzerland Price Index 1921 1965 -8.80
United Kingdom GFD Indices UK Top 100 Price Index 1900 1974 -17.80
United States GFD Indices USA Top 100 Price Index 1900 1938 -21.93
         
World GFD Indices Developed World Price Index (USD) 1900 2020 -13.47
World x/USA GFD Indices Developed World x/USA Price Index (USD) 1900 2020 -12.60
Europe GFD Indices Developed World Europe Price Index (USD) 1900 1980 -13.85

Table 1.  Worst March Performances by Country, 1900 to 2020    

Stocks Bounce Back in the Second Quarter

  So far the coronavirus has given investors a wild ride during the first half of the year.  Virtually every stock market in the world declined in value during the first quarter of 2020 and virtually every stock market bounced back during the second quarter.  Although only the NASDAQ bounced back to new highs, and both Denmark and the United States are up for 2020, most stock markets declined during the first half of 2020. Nevertheless, most stock markets throughout the world recovered the majority of their losses during the first quarter of the year during the second quarter. Table 1 provides data on percentage returns for the month of June, the first quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2020 for 21 countries and 3 regions. As Table 1 shows, every stock market was down during the first quarter and up during the second quarter.  

Country Jun-20 Q1 2020 Q2 2020
Australia 2.20 -24.87 17.43
Austria -0.59 -33.27 10.53
Belgium 2.94 -29.59 9.76
Canada 2.12 -21.59 15.97
Denmark 0.37 -9.73 16.14
Finland -0.46 -20.40 17.20
France 4.65 -26.82 12.85
Germany 4.54 -25.35 22.15
India 7.68 -28.57 18.49
Ireland 1.45 -28.26 15.92
Italy 5.99 -27.54 13.84
Japan -0.31 -13.08 11.10
Netherlands 5.34 -21.15 17.42
New Zealand 4.89 -15.76 16.31
Norway -0.35 -23.43 8.60
South Africa 7.68 -22.06 22.19
Spain 2.16 -29.39 6.42
Sweden 2.16 -18.39 16.38
Switzerland 1.54 -9.84 8.09
United Kingdom 1.53 -24.80 8.77
United States 2.71 -17.66 20.19
World 2.51 -20.10 15.93
World x/USA 3.22 -23.00 10.61
Europe 3.88 -25.39 10.06

Table 1. Monthly and Quarterly Returns in 2020            It should be remembered that the month of July and the third quarter of the year are often the weakest quarters of the year.  July is not the best performing month in any country in the world, and the second quarter is the worst performing quarter in seven of the twenty-one countries we cover.  On average, the world index rises by 0.76% in the third quarter, but the world x/USA index rises only 0.01%. Since the world has gone through a rapid recovery during the second quarter of 2020, some markets are likely to fall back during the third quarter of 2020.  We can only warn investors to be cautious for the third quarter of 2020. The monthly scorecard for June and tables covering returns in 21 countries and 3 regions are provided below. As always, best months are marked in green and worst months in red. June Monthly Scorecard Smallest Monthly Increase – Belgium, Canada, France, South Africa Fewest Monthly Increases – Austria, Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Spain Best Month – Finland (1945), Ireland (1847), United Kingdom (1720), Europe (1864) Worst Month – Germany (1948) Largest Quarterly Increase – India Fewest Quarterly Increases – Finland, Norway, Sweden Largest Monthly Increase Since 1900 – Belgium Smallest Monthly Increase Since 1900 – France, South Africa Fewest Monthly Increases Since 1900 – Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, World, World x/USA, Europe Best Month Since 1900 –  Finland (1945) Worst Month Since 1900 – Germany (1948) Most Quarterly Increases Since 1900 – New Zealand Fewest Quarterly Increases Since 1900 – Finland, Norway, Sweden

Events in Time Anniversaries: August 2020

  25 years ago: August 1995 S&P 500: 561.88 (vs. 3351.28 in 08/2020) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 6.28% (vs. 0.57% in 08/2020) Gold: $382.35 (vs. $2067.15 in 08/2020) Oil: $17.895 (vs. $41.93 in 08/2020) GBP/USD: 1.5495 (vs. 1.305 in 08/2020) US GDP: $7,581 billion (vs. $19,409 billion in 06/2020) US Population: 266 million (vs. 331 million in 2020) 08/01/1995: Westinghouse agrees to buy CBS for $5.4 billion. The interbank loan market stopped working due to concerns about connected lending in many new banks. 08/02/1995: Saudi Arabia's King Fahd issues a decree replacing all members of the Council of Ministers who do not have blood ties so the royal Family. While most of the Council's top positions are unaffected by the reshuffling, Oil Minister Hisham Nazer is replaced with Ali bin Ibrahim al-Naimi. (WSJ) 08/03/1995: Union Pacific will acquire Southern Pacific in a $3.9 billion pact -- creating the largest U.S. railroad. 08/05/1995: The city of Knin, Croatia, a significant Serb stronghold, is captured by Croatian forces during Operation Storm. The date is celebrated in Croatia as Victory Day. 08/10/1995: Oklahoma City bombing: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are indicted for the bombing. Michael Fortier pleads guilty in a plea-bargain for his testimony. 08/24/1995: Microsoft's launch of Windows 95 is met with eager demand, possibly hitting $700 million in sales the first day. 08/27/1995: Chemical Banking and Chase Manhattan plan a $10 billion merger, unseating Citicorp as the largest U.S. bank. 08/31/1995: Time Warner reaches a tentative pact to acquire Turner for $8 billion -- creating the world's largest media company. The Bank of Japan cuts its discount rate to half a percentage point from 1%. Orange County officials hammer out a 15-year financial-recovery plan.   50 years ago: August 1970 S&P 500: 81.52 (vs. 3351.28 in 08/2020) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 7.49% (vs. 0.57% in 08/2020) Gold: $35.80 (vs. $2067.15 in 08/2020) Oil: $3.21 (vs. $41.93 in 08/2020) GBP/USD: 2.3836 (vs. 1.305 in 08/2020) US GDP: $1,067 billion (vs. $19,409 billion in 06/2020) US Population: 209 million (vs. 331 million in 2020) 08/07/1970: Ninety-day Mid-East cease-fire arranged. 08/15/1970: Patricia Palinkas becomes the first woman to play professionally in an American football game. 08/17/1970: Venera 7 launched. It will later become the first spacecraft to successfully transmit data from the surface of another planet (Venus). 08/18/1970: Biggest trading day in 122-year history of Chicago Board of Trade. Record 309 million bushels of grain changed hands, 13% above previous record on June 16, 1966. 08/23/1970: Organized by Mexican American labor union leader Cesar Chavez, the Salad Bowl strike, the largest farm worker strike in U.S. history, begins. 08/29/1970: Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War, East Los Angeles, California. Police riot kills three people, including journalist Rubin Salazar.   100 years ago: August 1920 S&P 500: 7.7294 (vs. 3351.28 in 08/2020) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 5.67% (vs. 0.57% in 08/2020) Gold: $20.67 (vs. $2067.15 in 08/2020) Oil: $6.10 (vs. $41.93 in 08/2020) GBP/USD: 3.555 (vs. 1.305 in 08/2020) US GDP: $84 billion (vs. $19,409 billion in 06/2020) US Population: 106.46 million (vs. 329 million in 2020) 08/09/1920: Mr. Chamberlain announces decision to end bread subsidy before the end of the financial year. Bolshevist peace terms announced in Commons. 08/10/1920: Ottoman sultan Mehmed VI's representatives sign the Treaty of Svres that divides up the Ottoman Empire between the Allies. Greece acquires Eastern Thrace and is assingned administration of the area of Smyrna for 5 years. 08/11/1920: The Latvian-Soviet Peace Treaty, which relinquished Russia's authority and pretenses to Latvia, is signed, ending the Latvian War of Independence. 08/13/1920: Polish-Soviet War: the Battle of Warsaw begins and will last till August 25. The Red Army is defeated. 08/14/1920: A security agreement is signed between Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. 08/16/1920: Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is hit on the head by a fast ball thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees, and dies early the next day. Chapman was the second player to die from injuries sustained in a Major League Baseball game, the first being Doc Powers in 1909. 08/18/1920: The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing women's suffrage. 08/25/1920: Polish-Soviet War: Battle of Warsaw, which began on August 13, ends with theRed Army's defeat. 08/30/1920: Battle of Giby: Lithuanian withdrawal successfully mediated by French at request of Poland during Polish-Lithuanian War 08/31/1920: The first radio news program is broadcast by 8MKin Detroit, Michigan. The total defeat of the Russian Fourth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Armies marked the end of the battle.   200 years ago: August 1820 S&P 500/GFD US-100: 1.633 (vs. 3351.28 in 08/2020) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 4.513% (vs. 0.57% in 08/2020) Gold: $19.39 (vs. $2067.15 in 08/2020) GBP/USD: 4.5126 (vs. 1.305 in 08/2020) US GDP: $727 million (vs. $19,409 billion in 06/2020) US Population: 9.6 million (vs. 331 million in 2020) 08/24/1820: Liberal Revolution of 1820 against the British-led Regency of William Carr Beresford begins in Porto on 24 August. The Regency's troops decline to act against their countrymen and on 15 September declare for King, Cortes and Constitution. A provisional government is established on 1 October to oversee elections to the Cortes.   © 2020 Global Financial Data. Please feel free to redistribute this Events-in-Time Chronology and credit Global Financial Data as the source.

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Our comprehensive financial databases span global markets offering data never compiled into an electronic format. We create and generate our own proprietary data series while we continue to investigate new sources and extend existing series whenever possible. GFD supports full data transparency to enable our users to verify financial data points, tracing them back to the original source documents. GFD is the original supplier of complete historical data.