Leaders and laggards of the ASX market sectors in FY24

The No. 1 ASX market sector rose by more than 30% and we reveal the top 5 stocks within the sector.

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Information technology shares and financial stocks were the best performers among the 11 market sectors comprising the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) in FY24.

The S&P/ASX 200 Information Technology Index (ASX: XIJ) rose by 27.99%, and the S&P/ASX 200 Financials Index (ASX: XFJ) ascended 23.11%, in FY24.

The laggards among the sectors were consumer staples and materials shares. This may be surprising given staples are usually defensive during periods of high inflation.

Materials shares were affected by mixed commodity price performances, with silver, gold, and copper rising strongly over the financial year while iron ore was volatile and lithium tanked.

The S&P/ASX 200 Consumer Staples Index (ASX: XSJ) tumbled 6.89% and the S&P/ASX 200 Materials Index (ASX: XMJ) fell 6.4% in FY24.

Let's delve deeper.

Technology led the market sectors in FY24

Overall, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) booked a 7.83% gain over the FY24 trading year.

The index rose from 7,203.3 points on 30 June 2023 to 7,767.5 points last Friday.

As the chart below shows, the ASX 200 gradually fell over the first four months of FY24. Then, in early November, an early Santa Rally began amid speculation that interest rates would be cut in 2024.

The ASX 200 was volatile after reaching a record 7,910.5 points on 2 April. Hope for potential rate cuts faded over the next three months as inflation proved stickier than expected.

Why did technology lead the ASX market sectors?

The hype around artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential to meaningfully move the dial on global productivity growth after many sluggish years is certainly a factor in this sector's success.

US semiconductor company NVIDIA Corp was the poster child of global AI stocks in FY24.

Nvidia stock rose by close to 200% in FY24 and is up 2,900% over five years. Such is the excitement over AI and its potential to spur innovation in businesses across many market sectors in the future.

The technology-dominated NASDAQ Composite Index, where Nvidia and its fellow Magnificent Seven stocks live, outperformed the S&P 500 in FY24, and AI was a driving factor in its approximate 30% surge.

This enthusiasm rubbed off on ASX tech shares in FY24, especially those most closely connected to the AI tailwind.

The CEO of data centre-as-a-service operator Nextdc Ltd (ASX: NXT), Craig Scroggie, described AI as "the fourth industrial revolution" in a recent interview published on asx.com.au.

Scroggie said:

It is significantly shaping the data centre industry, particularly in environments where AI workloads are managed, whether for training or inference purposes.

Although the full impact of AI on the Australian market is still unfolding, the trends observed globally, specifically in the US, combined with our active engagements with global customers, suggest a massive increase in demand for data centre services driven by AI applications. 

The NextDC share price ascended 41.72% in FY24 to close at $17.63 per share on Friday. It was the sixth-best performer for price growth among ASX 200 technology shares in FY24.

5 best ASX 200 shares of the tech sector in FY24

The tech sector's top performer in FY24 was social networking app provider Life360 Inc (ASX: 360).

Life 360 shares rose 122.72% over FY24 to close at $16.37 last Friday.

Here are the others making up the top 5 ASX 200 tech stocks for share price growth in FY24.

RankASX 200 technology stock Share price on FridayFY24 growth
1Life360 Inc (ASX: 360)$16.37122.72%
2Altium Ltd (ASX: ALU)$68.0384.26%
3Megaport Ltd (ASX: MP1)$11.2255.4%
4Codan Ltd (ASX: CDA) $12.0349.81%
5Macquarie Technology Group Ltd (ASX: MAQ)$94.5738.42%

Motley Fool contributor Bronwyn Allen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Altium, Life360, Megaport, and Nvidia. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Megaport and Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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