Welcome to the first day of trading in 2020! Equity markets in Asia finished the day mixed with markets in Japan and New Zealand closed. The major stock indices in Europe were mostly in the green by midday trading except for Switzerland and Russia while US equity futures indicate positive moves at the open. Even though several pieces of global economic data will be had today, market activity will likely remain on the quiet side today and tomorrow as we round out New Year’s week.
Like reading a map it’s usually best to understand where you’ve been to see where you are going. With that in mind, looking back at2019, the Nasdaq 100 was the strongest performing index, gaining 38%, with the Nasdaq Composite a close second at 35.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 22.3% thanks in large part to Apple (AAPL), which rose 85% over the year, generating nearly 18% of the Dow’s gains. Apple was also the biggest contributor (at 2.7%) to the S&P 500’s 28.8% gain for 2019. Microsoft (MSFT) was the second biggest contributor at 1.8%.
Given the gains in both Apple and Microsoft shares, it’s not so surprising the strongest S&P 500 sector in 2019 was technology, which gained 49.7% for the year. By comparison, the weakest sector was energy, which rose 11.2%. Internationally, Russia’s equity market enjoyed the greatest gains despite the pain in the energy market, rising 51.4%. It’s bond market also was the strongest performer, up 24.6%. The weakest equity market was in Argentina, which lost 20.7%, primarily thanks to the collapsing peso which ironically resulted in it delivering the strongest performing currency thanks to interest returns, gaining 26.8%. The worst bond market was in Sweden, down 0.9%. The best performing commodity was unleaded gasoline, which gained 45.3% while natural gas was the weakest, falling 37.2%.
Turning back to the new year…