Best First Quarters For The S&P 500

Includes: SPY
by: Bespoke Investment Group

With a gain of 10% in the first quarter, the S&P had its best first quarter to a year since, well, last year. It was also the index's 13th 10%-plus gain in the first quarter of a calendar year going back to 1928. In the table below, we summarize the performance of the index in each of those years from April through year-end, as well as for the entire year.

Following prior strong first quarters, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 1.4% for the remainder of the year (median 5.8%) with positive returns in 10 out of 12 years. While most years have seen gains over the rest of the year, we would note that the two down years were doozies with declines of 15.3% in 1987 and 39.0% in 1930. Overall, there has only been one year where the S&P 500 had a gain of 10% or more in the first quarter and finished the year down (1930). After last year's strong start, the S&P 500 followed the average rest-of-year return pretty closely with a gain of 1.3%.