May 28, 2023

Global Markets Fail to Post Gains in 2011

On Friday, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index traded off less than a point in early trading, while the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.2 percent.

The S.P. 500, a benchmark for the broad market, had a razor-thin 0.2 percent gain for the year so far by mid-morning, while the Dow was up 6 percent for the year.

Major European and Asian indexes, however, descended by double-digit percentages in 2011.

Trading volumes thinned out during the holiday season, capping off with a whisper what was a year of political turmoil and financial upheaval that saw governments overturned and prospects for sovereign defaults sharpen.

The euro zone debt crisis set off volatile swings in equity markets that had investors turning to safer assets, while one of the safest assets historically — United States debt — suffered its first ever downgrade to its AAA credit rating.

On Friday, crude oil futures traded in New York were slightly lower at $99.23 a barrel, after rising to $101.34 this week, their highest level since June. In recent days, tensions have bubbled to the surface after Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions were imposed on its oil shipments.

Materials and energy shares rose the most on Friday, although their gains were less than 0.5 percent in early trading. Financial stocks were down, following their 2011 trend.

The yield of the benchmark 10-year Treasury, which moves in the opposite direction of its price, was down 2 basis points Friday to 1.876 percent, on track to finish the year well below its 3.75 percent yield in the beginning of 2011.

“The great Treasury rally of 2011 was attributable in large part to events that many of us would have considered unlikely at that time,” said Kevin H. Giddis, the executive managing director and president for fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Keegan Company, “namely, the Arab spring, the loss of the United States’ AAA rating, the devastating earthquake in Japan, and the European monetary pact becoming dangerously close to breaking apart.

As 2011 ends, “the investing landscape doesn’t look all that different,” he wrote in a year-end market commentary. “To put it charitably, economic conditions in Europe remain tenuous, with no clear end in sight.”

Some analysts expect the focus in 2012 to swing back to fundamentals in the United States as investors try to gauge how successfully the country can “de-couple” from Europe’s woes.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.1 percent for the day but down 5.6 percent for the year, while Germany’s DAX ended 0.9 percent higher for the day and 14.7 percent lower for the year.

The CAC 40 in France was 0.4 percent higher in late trading, about 18 percent down for the year. The Nikkei 225 closed down more than 17 percent for the year, while the Hang Seng Index was down nearly 20 percent.

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Stocks Stabilize in Europe After Drops in Asia

North Korean state media reported that Mr. Kim had died Saturday of a heart attack. The reports suggested that Mr. Kim’s chosen successor, his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, was in charge.

The dollar surged 1.4 percent against the South Korean currency, the won, rising to 1,174.80 won. The Kospi index in Seoul fell 3.4 percent.

The Tokyo benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average fell 1.3 percent. The Sydney market index S.P./ASX 200 fell 2.4 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 1.2 percent and in Shanghai the composite index fell 0.3 percent.

But stocks were little changed in European morning trading after falling early. The Euro Stoxx 50 index, a barometer of euro zone blue chips, rose 0.1 percent, while the FTSE 100 index in London was down less than 0.1 percent.

Investors in Europe were more focused on a teleconference of European finance ministers later Monday. The officials are seeking to move ahead with a plan to increase their contribution to the International Monetary Fund by about $260 billion.

Standard Poor’s 500 index futures slipped, suggesting Wall Street would begin the day marginally lower. The S.P. 500 added 0.3 percent on Friday.

United States and German government bonds, considered to be among the most secure investments in the world, were little changed, suggesting investors were calm after the shock of the Korean news wore off.

The dollar gained against other major currencies. The euro fell to $1.3018 from $1.3046 late Friday in New York, while the British pound fell to $1.5505 from $1.5545. The dollar rose to 77.90 yen from 77.76 yen, and to 93.73 Swiss francs from 0.9359 francs.

U.S. crude oil futures fell 0.3 percent to $93.210 a barrel. Comex gold futures rose just under 0.1 percent to $1,598.60 an ounce.

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