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  • John Pickart

Huge 12-Month Equity Returns

With the anniversary of the stock market lows behind us, let's review just how much of a rebound occurred in both large and small-cap U.S. stocks. The top chart shows the trailing 12 month returns over time of both the S&P 500 (blue) and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks (orange). The lower chart highlights the difference in returns over the trailing 12 months.


At their respective lows in March 2020, the trailing returns were -20% and -36% for the S&P 500 and Russell 2000. Fast forward to today and the indexes have recorded outsized returns starting at the lows last March. While the S&P 500 gained 75% from its low, the Russell 2000 surged well over 100%.


Large-cap growth stocks dominated early in the recovery while small-caps have done especially well in the last 6 months. As a result, the S&P 500 has dramatically lagged the Russell 2000 on a 12 month basis (lower chart). At one point, the differential was over 65% but has eased in recent days but still over 35%.

The long term chart highlights the rarity of these types of relative returns. More to ponder as we navigate 2021.



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