As the sun sets on 2016 on a tumultuous 2016, here’s a quick snapshot of how markets fared, buffeted by a cocktail of referenda, elections and populism.

The ubiquitous B and T (Brexit and Trump) naturally stand out as the year’s star (?) events. And with Theresa May wanting to invoke Article 50 to be able to start Brexit discussions in March, and Donald Trump officially taking the reins on 20th January, B & T will not be going away very soon either.

2016-roundupIt was interesting to note that when the Financial Times (whose readers posted more than one million comments on FT.com in 2016) asked its readers for a succinct one word summary for the year, the FT reproduced the following comment: “Bonkers, just bonkers”.

And bonkers could well be applied to stock markets too – 2016 kicked off to crashing stock markets and sliding oil prices leading to the worst ever open in US markets and the weakest start in European equities since at least the early 1970s. In the first two weeks of January, US markets alone had shed more than $2 trillion of stock market valuation.

Stock markets stayed in bear territory for the first couple of months while oil reached a 13 year low at the end of January. As stock markets limped to pair their losses by the end of the first quarter, ironically a stronger pick up in the pace was felt post Brexit, reaching its climax with the “Trump bump” as his victory provided an unexpected boon to stock markets.

From the nine major markets we track, and in In keeping with the “B & T” theme referred to above, the UK and the US dominated stock market returns:

The UK’s FTSE 100 and America’s Dow Jones topped the charts, as the FTSE gained an impressive 14.43% while the Dow Jones increased 13.42%. Both markets marked new historic highs as the FTSE 100, in a right celebratory tone, hit a fresh peak on the last trading day of the year, while the Dow Jones closed less than 25 points short of 20,000 at 19,974.62 on 20 December.

The gains are all the more impressive if one looks at their performance from trough to peak. Both markets hit a low on 11 February . Eleven months later, the FTSE had advanced 29% and the Dow Jones 26.2%.

Third place went to the tech laden NASDAQ which advanced 7.5% for the year.

European markets also ended in positive territory with the German DAX closing at a 2016 high of 11,481.06 on 30 December for a year’s gain of 6.87%. France’s CAC 40 followed suit, also hitting a 2016 high on 30th December at 4,862.51 to end plus 4.86%.

India’s BSE 30 Sensex treaded water to end the year 1.95% up while Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng were more or less on par up 0.42% and 0.39% respectively

China’s Shanghai composite was the only market to end the year in negative territory 12.31% down. Nonetheless from its 28 January low of 2,655 to the end of the year, the market climbed 16.87%

The Financial Times’s John Authers last week ran a column which he writes every year when he pays a visit to the hypothetical Hindsight Capital and lists the trades a clairvoyant would have made in 2016. Naturally he is not constrained by just looking at major markets or mainstream investments. Two of his best trades would have coincided with two of the world’s best performers: Argentina’s Merval and Brazil’s Bovespa. The former was up 45% while the latter rallied 39%. Oddly enough, he seems to have opted out of looking at Russia’s RTS Index which careened ahead by an incredible 52% in dollar terms.

At the end of the article John Authers jokes about the track record being set by Hindsight Capital. He muses “shame they never tell me their trades in advance.” And so say of all us.

Here’s to an interesting 2017!

Local Market: MSE Index ends 2016 up 4.5%

The local market notched up a gain on a par with other European Stock Markets gaining 4.5% to close at 4,630.879. As happened with several International Indices, the MSE Index hit a year’s high on the last trading day of the year. This level not only marks the highest level for 2016, but also the highest level seen since early April 2008

Total equity turnover for 2016 dipped slightly from last year’s €80.9 million to this year’s €77.8 million. The busiest week was the one starting 15th February which saw turnover of just over €3.8 million, whilst the slowest week starting 25th July saw turnover dwindle to just over €594,000.

Out of the 23 listed equities, positives outnumbered negatives almost 2:1 with 14 equities closing in positive territory, while 8 ended lower. Just one equity- Pefaco International plc – closed unchanged at €2.24.

The podium was occupied by Fimbank plc which registered a spectacular 46.46% gain to close at $0.90. Throughout the year just under 7.2 million shares changed hands for a total value of €5.5 million. Next in line was Santumas Shareholdings plc which registered a 38.61% increase to close the year at a bonus adjusted price of €1.26. Overall trading was very illiquid spread over just 15 sessions for a turnover value of €156,590.

Loqus Holdings plc., the only equity listed under the Alternative Companies List, saw the third strongest performance up 37.5% at €1.165. The equity was only active on 17 sessions with 61,979 shares changing hands for a value of all of €8,645.

On the loser’s side Global Capital plc was undoubtedly the worst performer down a hefty 45.33% to end the year at €0.41. Here again trading was thin with just over 146,000 shares traded for a value of €66,500.

Grand Harbour Marina plc followed with a comparatively smaller loss of 13.10%. Once again trading was minimal with just 15 deals struck for a turnover value of €23,700.

International Hotel Investments plc ranked third place in the minus column, as the price tumbled by 11.34% . Here turnover was a more substantial 3.7 million shares for a value of €2.35 million

In the local Banking Industry, HSBC Bank Malta plc was the best performer increasing by 7.83%. Most of the gain was registered in the last quarter of the year when the price hit a 2016 high of €1.93 on 25th October. It ended the year at €1.90 on a turnover value of just over €6.8 million.

Bank of Valletta plc (BOV) saw a more contained gain of 3.86% to end the year at €2.251. With 7,367,792 shares traded for a value of just over €16.62 million, BOV accounted for the largest portion of equity turnover by value at 21.36% Lombard Bank plc was the only equity from the banking sector to end in the red down 7.44% at €2.30.

On the Corporate bond front, turnover slipped minimally from last year’s €59.8 million to this year’s €57.8 milliion. The drop in the Government bond turnover was more pronounced from last year’s €776.9 million to this year’s €551.8 million.

Below please find the performance table for all Maltese listed equities.

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