European equities end strong year with losses
It was a bullish year for the stock markets in 2021 – Copyright AFP / File JOHN THYS
European stock markets closed lower on Friday, the last trading session of 2021 – a year of strong gains overall as economies recovered despite ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The London benchmark FTSE 100 fell 0.3% in a shortened trading session ahead of the New Year.
It has climbed more than 14% from 2021.
The Paris CAC 40 index climbed nearly 29% this year, its best performance in over 20 years.
Germany’s DAX ended its year on Thursday, having jumped nearly 16% in 2021.
“As we look to 2022, questions about inflation, growth and the… pandemic remain with us, as the outlook for monetary policy is clouded by the potential for further (central bank) rate hikes. over the next several months, “noted Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG Trading Group.
“Overall, it still seems reasonable to expect further gains for equities, but with perhaps less of the exuberance we have seen in 2021.”
The euro fell more than 7% against the dollar in 2021, its worst performance in six years, as the Federal Reserve cuts its huge stimulus package and signals rate hikes in the coming months.
Oil prices fell about 2% on Friday, after jumping more than 50% this year following a strong rebound in demand for crude after a dismal pandemic in 2020.
In Asia, the main Hong Kong stock index ended with gains on Friday as the rise in Chinese tech stocks helped it shed a weak overnight lead on Wall Street.
The benchmark Hang Seng closed more than one percent on a day many Asian exchanges – Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand – were closed for public holidays.
The Hang Seng was the world’s worst performing major indicator in 2021, down around 14%.
It follows a difficult year for many Chinese tech giants, who have been battered by Beijing’s drive to restrict their influence.
– More modest 2022? –
Global stocks struggled to make gains in the last week of the year as markets weighed on government efforts to limit the health and economic effects of the latest wave of Covid-19 rapidly spreading.
The Omicron variant has led to new cases of Covid-19 being recorded globally, but markets have remained optimistic in light of research suggesting that the health effects will be milder than with previous variants.
“Concerns about the Omicron variant have subsided, but the speed of its spread is tempering sentiment,” analysts Charles Schwab wrote.
And Jason Pride, chief investment officer for private wealth at Glenmede, told Bloomberg Television:
“As we look to 2022, the gains are likely to be more modest than they have been over the past year.”
Offering reasons for optimism, he added: “We are still recovering from the pandemic.”
– Key figures around 1:00 p.m. GMT –
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3% to 7,384.54 points (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.3% to 7,153.03 (closing)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2% to 4,298.41 (closing)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: closed for public holidays
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: EN up 1.2% to 23,397.67 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: EN up 0.6% to 3,639.78 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.3% to 4,778.73 (close)
Euro / dollar: up $ 1.1328 from $ 1.1320
Pound / dollar: DOWN to $ 1.3483 from $ 1.3499
Euro / pound: UP to 84.00 pence from 83.85
Dollar / yen: up to 115.11 yen from 115.09 yen
North Sea Brent: DOWN 1.9% to $ 78.05 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.9% to $ 75.51 per barrel