The market finished higher in April, but not before taking a tumble in the middle of the month as oil prices surged. After reaching a low on Apr. 17, the S&P 500 bounced back three days later and finished the month with a total return of 1.3%. So far this year, it has risen 5.6% with dividends. The strongest performing sectors in April remained energy, financials, and materials. On the losing end were health care and telecom stocks.
In this context, large- and mid-cap stocks plugged along. Concerns about the impact of higher energy and commodity prices on the Federal Reserve's interest-rate decision-making process may have contributed to investors' embrace of the value side of the style ledger, at least for large- and mid-cap issues.
Among equity-fund categories, large-cap value funds were the standouts in April, rising 2.1% as dividends helped boost returns. The all-cap value category rose 1.6%, while mid-cap value funds gained 1.3%. Small-cap growth funds were the weakest of the bunch, edging just 0.2%, while small-cap blend funds managed a 0.6% uptick. Small-cap value funds, which have enjoyed strong returns in the past six years, rose just 0.8% in April. (For complete results of more than 5,000 funds, see BW Online's Interactive Mutual Fund Scoreboard).