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2023 stock market report

Key takeaways

  • Global stocks advanced nearly 22% in 2023.
  • Big tech and artificial intelligence bolstered stocks.
  • Stocks might go higher in 2024, but uncertainty could lead to a seesaw.

The market’s rollercoaster ride continues. Global stocks accelerated 22% in 2023, after reversing 20% in 2022 and gaining 18% in 2021. Multiple indexes hit all-time highs last year as many asset classes had huge gains during the upswing. Some highlights include:1

  • US stocks gained 24%
  • Gold advanced 13%
  • Bitcoin soared 144%
  • Global bonds gained 3%
  • Oil fell 7%
  • Volatility fell 46%

Even though stocks arrived at year-end with double-digit gains, 2023 started out on an uncertain path. Rising rates, global conflicts, and relatively high prices for goods laid the track for a potentially bumpy ride. But slowing inflation—falling energy prices in particular—and market leadership from some big companies helped stocks bounce back.

Here's a closer look at how stocks performed in 2023, and what you might expect for 2024.

Tech reconnects, energy plunges

Sector leadership in 2023 turned over compared to 2022, highlighting the potential value of sector rotation. After tech stocks lost 29% in 2022, they gained 60% in 2023. The so-called “Magnificent 7”—Alphabet (), Amazon (), Apple (), Meta (), Microsoft (), Nvidia (), and Tesla ()—made up an outsized percentage of the broad market’s gains.

In fact, market breadth outside of certain mega-cap stocks was relatively weak throughout the year. Only high-growth cyclical sectors, including tech, communications, and consumer discretionary stocks beat the S&P 500 (see 2023 US sector performance table below). Indeed, cyclical sectors far outperformed defensive sectors (utilities, consumer staples, and health care).

2022 sector returns graphic
Source:, as of January 3, 2024. Data is cumulative, and returns are on a price return basis (i.e., they do not include dividends). Sector performance is based on S&P 500 sector indexes.

Meanwhile, momentum ran out for energy stocks in 2023—after powering up to be the best performing sector in 2021 and 2022 (and being the only sector in 2022 to finish in the green). While falling energy costs pushed energy stocks down for the year, that helped drive the rest of the market higher. Utilities, consumer staples, and energy were the 3 sectors to finish 2023 in the red.

Longer term, technology remained by far the biggest winner, while energy stocks have lagged.

2024 stock outlook

Will 2023's momentum spill over into 2024? The first few trading days of the year seem to suggest not. However, the past may help you forecast which direction stocks might go this year. Indeed, some historical patterns were prescient in predicting that 2023 could be an up year.

For example, there have been 21 down years for stocks since 1945. Going into 2023, the S&P had gained more than 14% on average in the years following an annual market decline. The S&P’s 24% rally in 2023, following 2022’s double-digit loss, outpaced even that lofty average historical performance. Moreover, history suggested rotating out of defensive groups that held up best during 2022's steep decline and rotating into those sectors that fell the furthest. This strategy worked in 2023.

What’s the play for 2024? Active investors may be wondering if they should rotate out of 2023’s winners and buy the losers, ride the momentum of winners, or some other strategy.

History says investors might expect positive returns for stocks in 2024—if not as large as last year—and for last year’s winners to repeat. “After an annual surge of 20% or more, the S&P 500 advanced 80% of the time in the subsequent year and rose 10% on average,” notes investment research company CFRA. Historical patterns suggest a momentum strategy might be optimal after a big annual gain, according to CFRA, and to "let your winners ride."

Jurrien Timmer, director of global macro at Fidelity, also thinks the bull market may continue. “My strong hunch, based on market history, is that the bull market will broaden in 2024—with a wide range of types of stocks advancing—rather than the narrow leadership we saw for much of 2023,” notes Timmer.

Fidelity's 2024 sector outlook highlights a range of opportunities across all sectors, including AI adoption in the technology and communication services sector, makers of novel weight-loss drugs in health care, and the global shift toward decarbonization in the utilities sector.

Taking stock

We enter 2024 with positive momentum, but also looming uncertainty. US elections, for example, could capture headlines and help generate cautious market sentiment. History says elections may not move markets as much as some might expect. Factors like oil prices, interest rates, earnings growth, and geopolitical developments are more likely to help shape stocks’ outlook.

Even though stocks are trading near all-time highs, that doesn’t mean all investors want to simply sit back and enjoy the ride—or that it will be smooth sailing in 2024. Nevertheless, unlike this time last year, there is momentum behind stocks. The question now is if that momentum can continue.

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1. All of the data in this article comes from, as of January 3, 2024. Global stocks measured by the MSCI World Index. Volatility measured by the CBOE Volatility Index. Global bonds measured by the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index. Gold measured by Nymex gold per troy ounce. Oil measured by WTI crude. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Because of their narrow focus, sector investments tend to be more volatile than investments that diversify across many sectors and companies. Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Investing in stock involves risks, including the loss of principal. CFRA and Fidelity Investments are independent entities and are not legally affiliated. The S&P 500® Index is a market capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation to represent US equity performance. The MSCI World Index is a market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the investable equity market performance for global investors of developed markets. The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index is designed to measure the broad bond market via government Treasury securities, corporate bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and munis. The Chicago Board of Options Exchange Market Volatility Index (VIX) is a measure of implied volatility, based on the prices of a basket of S&P 500 Index options with 30 days to expiration.

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917