Global equities end strong year with losses
Global 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.
On Wall Street, the broad-based S&P 500 had its best December in more than a decade, posting a third straight year of double-digit gains with a 27.1% jump.
The index has registered 70 times this year, “second only to 1954,” analyst Sam Stovall said. “2021 has been a very good year.
The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 18.7%, while high-tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq up 21.4%.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 fell 0.3% in a shortened trading session ahead of the New Year, posting a 14% increase for the year.
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 markets have soared in 2021, they have oscillated in recent months as investors worried about the resurgence of inflation, the prospect of an end to central bank largesse and the coronavirus pandemic in Classes.
The Federal Reserve has raised concerns about rising prices and is expected to start raising interest rates to zero in the first months of next year after starting to scale back its stimulus bond purchase program .
“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 rate hikes (from the central bank) 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.”
Oil prices fell 2% on Friday, after jumping more than 50% this year following a sharp rebound in demand for crude after a dismal pandemic in 2020.
In Asia, the main Hong Kong stock index ended higher on Friday, thanks to the surge in Chinese tech stocks.
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.
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 resulted in the registration of new infections globally, but markets have remained optimistic in light of research suggesting that the health effects will be milder than with previous variants.
But positive cases still mean employees have to take time off work, and that has spilled over, canceling events and flights during a busy travel season.
“Concerns about the Omicron variant have subsided, but the speed of its spread is tempering sentiment,” analysts Charles Schwab wrote.
New York – DOW: DOWN 0.2% to 36,338.3 points (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.3% to 4,766.18 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.6% to 15,644.97 (close)
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)
Euro / dollar: up to $ 1.137 from $ 1.1320 Thursday night
Pound / dollar: At $ 1.3526 vs. $ 1.3499
Euro / pound: up to 84.04 pence from 83.85
Dollar / yen: LOWER to 115.11 yen against 115.09 yen
North Sea Brent: DOWN 2.0% to $ 77.84 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 2.1% to $ 75.40 per barrel
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