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April 2013: The Month in Charts

April proved to be a somewhat volatile and uncertain month for investors in many asset classes, as traders proved ready to take profits on the first sign of trouble and as the economic overview remains murky at best.

The second quarter of 2013 got off to a bumpy and uncertain start in April. On the one hand, some equity markets gained ground, with the Nikkei posting its best April on record in some two decades. On the other, many markets — especially those that had seen big gains of late — retreated, with gold posting some extremely dramatic selloffs over the course of the month, including the largest one-day dip in some three decades.

The fact that investors found plenty to fret about, from the apparently unending struggle within the eurozone to geopolitical tension in the Middle East and Asia, with North Korea threatening to lob rockets in the direction of Japan and South Korea, sufficed to keep a lid on their enthusiasm for risk assets during the month. Some economic data was upbeat, such as the declining pace of initial jobless claims in the United States; other pieces appeared to send out warning signals about economic activity in some of the world’s largest exporters, including China and Germany.

While investors may prize “visibility”, or the ability to look past the financial markets’ version of the ‘fog of war’ and enable them to project long-term returns from specific asset allocation decisions, that remained notably absent from most asset classes. Little wonder, then, that at the end of April, investors appeared as indecisive as they had been at the beginning, with many of the same issues hanging overhead.

The following charts will, we hope, not only serve to remind you of the major events of financial markets during April, but help you set the stage for what is still to come in May, as corporate earnings announcements continue to hit the market and we brace for a fresh month’s worth of economic data.

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