The Worst March in History!

Bryan Taylor, Chief Economist, Global Financial Data

 

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

 

 

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