U.S. equity indexes ended April up 11%-15.4%, led by the Nasdaq Composite Index. Factors driving the sharp rebound, which was the best monthly performance for the S&P 500 since January 1987, were the passage of Covid-19-related fiscal stimulus, some positive news around the pandemic, and tentative plans to begin the reopening of the U.S. and European economies. April played out very differently from March, which saw all the major U.S. equity indexes fall 10%-14%. Once again, however, the Real Money Post Industrial Average (RMPIA) outperformed the industry benchmark that is the S&P 500 with its 13.8% climb -- almost double the 7.1% it lost during March.
Leading RMPIA to once again outperform in April, 14 of its constituents, including Apple (AAPL) , Amazon (AMZN) , Facebook (FB) , and PayPal (PYPL) , outperformed the S&P 500 in April. In addition to the relative outperformance, RMPIA's April performance was aided by positive price action at its remaining holdings save for Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) , which fell 5.4% for the month. Year-to-date through the end of April, RMPIA was down 0.1% compared to a 9.9% decline for the S&P 500, a 14.7% fall for the Dow and and a 0.9% drop for the Nasdaq Composite index.
Exiting April, 55% of the S&P 500 constituents had issued their March quarter results, which pointed to almost a 14% drop in earnings for the quarter. This first full week of May will be chock full of earnings reports as more than 1,350 companies share their March-quarter results and offer some insight on the June quarter. Included among them will be 143 S&P 500 constituents, which means that when this week is over, almost 80% of the 500 will have reported. Currently, analysts predict a year-over-year decline of just under 37% in earnings for the S&P 500 in the current quarter followed by drops of 20% and just over 9% in the September and December quarters, respectively.
While we will continue to receive simply ugly April economic data in the weeks ahead, including Friday's April Employment Report for the U.S., investors hope the global economy has bottomed and will rebound strongly late this quarter and further in the back half of 2020. Despite the market action, there are at least two risks investors should be mindful of: first, rising acrimony between the U.S. and China officials over the origin of the coronavirus is fueling fears of a new trade war.
In addition to new potential tariffs on China, the Trump administration is reportedly looking at initiatives to move "U.S. production and supply chain dependency away from China, even if it goes to other more friendly nations instead." This only adds a fresh layer of uncertainty for the market and investors. Second, the possibility that relaxing social distancing and other measures could bring a rebound in coronavirus cases during the phased reopening in May and June is likely to lead to only a modest uptick in the economy compared to the March quarter's GDP print of negative 4.8%.
Looking across RMPIA's constituents with an eye toward 2021, between the accelerating shift to digital shopping and digital payments, 5G deployments, and smartphone upgrades to continued cloud adoption and the expected rebound in consumer spending, it remains well-positioned for the long-term.