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3 stocks with the biggest gains took April's biggest losses

This is The Takeaway from today's Morning Brief, which you can sign up to receive in your inbox every morning along with:

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Stocks tumbled into the close on Tuesday, a fitting end to the year's most challenging month for investors.

For the month, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) lost 4% while the Dow (^DJI) lost 4.5%, marking its worst month since September 2022.

And much of this reversal was driven by the winners who got us here in the first place.

The three US stocks with the biggest market cap gains in the first three months of the year — Nvidia (NVDA), Microsoft (MSFT), and Meta (META) — suffered the biggest losses to their market caps in April.

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Nvidia was up a cool $1 trillion in market cap as of the final trading day of March, of which it gave up over $85 billion in April — the third-biggest such loss in the S&P 500.

Microsoft, the first quarter's silver medalist, added over $330 billion. But it subsequently lost over $210 billion in April.

Then there's Meta Platforms, which turned in a similar performance to Microsoft, gaining nearly $330 billion through March before losing just over $140 billion in April.

April had its share of winners, too, with these names also marking a reversal from what predominated in the year's first quarter.

Tesla (TSLA) gained over $25 billion in April, putting it in second place for the month after coming in next-to-last in the first quarter with a loss of $230 billion.

Apple (AAPL) was sitting dead last among US stocks at the end of March with a year-to-date market cap loss of nearly $350 billion. After the close on Monday, it had gained over $30 billion in value over April, but a day later — at month-end — that gain had dwindled to $2 billion.

Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) took first prize, gaining nearly $150 billion in the month. All of this and more came the day after it reported first quarter earnings last week, logging a 10% gain, which was good for $197 billion of market cap.

These big names also demonstrate how moves across sectors showed similar trends of reversion, with gains and losses swapping places.

Information Technology (XLK) — the home of Nvidia, Microsoft, and Apple — was the No. 1 large-cap gainer in market cap through March, rising $1.5 trillion. It was also the biggest loser in April, falling over $650 billion.

Communications Services (XLC) — home of Alphabet and Meta — was third in first quarter gains, adding $570 billion in market cap. It fell to the middle of the pack when it comes to April losses, losing nearly $100 billion.

Consumer Discretionary (XLY) — home of Amazon and Tesla — was dead last among sectors in the first three months of the year, only to drop $180 billion in April.

Notable April losses also include Financials (XLF), down $275 billion, and Health Care (XLV), which lost over $280 billion.

The only sector to gain in April was Utilities (XLU), which has also been the biggest laggard of this bull market that began in October of 2022.

April's plot twists still appear to be corrections, rather than shifts, in the narrative. Meta, for instance, may have lost well over $140 billion in value over the month of April, but shareholders are still sitting on annual gains of over 20%.

Tuesday's rocky close comes right as the proverbial "sell in May and go away" headlines are set to trigger. Astute investors understand that market seasonality is a nuanced phenomenon.

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