[Update] See a review of 2009 stockmarkets in this post.
Everyone knows that 2008 was a terrible year for most equity investors. The financial/credit crisis led to full blown recession which in turn caused a downturn in consumer and business spending. All this was reflected in equity markets which fell off a cliff over the latter half of the year. Anyway you cut it and no matter where you invested around the world, 2008 was a disaster for long term investors. The graphic below from Yahoo! Finance shows how some of the major global stock indexes performed.
US markets, despite seeing the largest destruction of absolute wealth in history, actually fared better than most other global markets/indexes. The Dow Jones Index (DJI) finished down around 35% for year while the S&P 500 and tech laden Nasdaq (IXIC) indexes were down near 40%. US indexes actually staged a mini-December rally from their October-November lows. From an individual stock perspective in the Dow Jones, only Wal-Mart (+13%) and McDonalds (+0.5%) made gains.
The worst performing major index was the Hong-Kong Shangai Index (HSI) which was down almost 50%, reflecting the slow down in China and other Asian economies. Resource rich countries, Australia (AORD) and Canada, were hit by the global commodity demand slowdown and saw their equity indexes fall by more than 40% for the year; wiping out most of the gains from the last 5 years.
The graphic below, from the BBC, shows the best and worst performing stock markets all around the world. Only one stock market (Tunisia) ended in positive territory this year. Some you probably never even knew existed, but all were victims of the credit crisis and global recession.
A tough year indeed. Here’s hoping to a better 2009.