Tech stocks absorbed a long-awaited decline in April, damaging mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that had enjoyed their run-up. Some investors hope it’s just a needed pause after a strong run for stocks of software, social-media and other tech companies that sent growth-stock funds soaring. As April ended, the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index had logged its weakest month since 2008: down 13%.
The damage wasn’t limited to tech. The average U.S.-stock fund fell 8.6% in the month, according to Refinitiv Lipper data. For 2022 so far, through April, the funds were down 14.1%. The average large-cap growth fund, meanwhile, powered by corporate-earnings potential, was down 12.4% for the month, and 22.1% so far this year, according to Lipper.
April 2022 fund performance, total return by fund type.
“The selling has been particularly acute in the areas that have captured the hearts, minds and wallets of many retail investors: the highflying tech sector,” wrote Katie Nixon, chief investment officer for Northern Trust Wealth Management, in a markets commentary in April. In a more positive light, she added, “As we look back at history, it is worth noting that the retail investor does not have a particularly good track record at timing the market, and behavioral biases tend to result in ‘selling low and buying high.’ While we agree with the premise that conditions are uncertain, we remain constructive on global equities.”
International-stock funds were off 6.6% in April, and are down 14.3% so far in 2022.
Meanwhile, investors aren’t getting any comfort in their bond funds. Expectations for higher interest rates have sent bond yields soaring—pushing down bond prices, in the seesaw relationship for bonds and yields. With inflation a problem, analysts had raised their forecasts for how high the Fed will be raising rates to battle it—ahead of last week’s Fed meeting when a half-percentage-point increase was announced. (That, in turn, has punished stocks, since higher rates hurt corporate profits.)
Bond funds declined in April. Funds tied to intermediate-maturity, investment-grade debt (the most common type of fixed-income fund) fell 3.7% and are down 9.4% for the year so far.
Mr. Power is a Wall Street Journal features editor in South Brunswick, N.J. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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