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Dec 31, 2019

U.S. stocks end worst year since financial crisis

BNN Bloomberg's commodities update: Dec. 31, 2018

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U.S. stocks ended the worst year since the financial crisis with a narrow gain in thin pre-holiday trading. Treasuries rose to a 10-month high.

The S&P 500 finished a choppy session higher and the Nasdaq Composite capped its first four-day advance since August amid optimism that President Donald Trump will move toward a trade deal with China. The advance trimmed the worst December rout for the S&P 500 since 1931 to 9.2 per cent. That monthly rout capped a 6.2 per cent slide in the year, the biggest of the record bull market.

Stocks around the world limped into the end of a dismal year that’s seen bear markets in equities from Japan to Germany. Europe’s main stock gauge fell 13 per cent drop in the year -- the biggest since 2008. The 10-year Treasury yield slid to 2.68 per cent, the lowest since February. The dollar edged lower as a government shutdown continued, while the yen climbed to a four-month high.

In commodities, crude slumped to its first annual loss since 2015, completing a reversal that saw it drop from a four-year high set just three months ago. Natural gas futures slid on Friday below US$3 for the first time since September, giving the front-month contract its worst December since 1991. Gold barreled into 2019 near a six-month high on haven demand.

While the glimmer of hope on the trade front sent global stocks out on a high note, plenty of event risks loom in the next 12 months, from the U.K.’s exit from the European Union to U.S.-China trade talks and the continuing showdown between President Trump and Congress over the budget. The American political landscape is also unsettling investors following departures of senior officials and Trump’s repeated criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Here’s how major markets performed this year:

The S&P 500 fell 6.2 per cent The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 5.6 per cent The Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.9 per cent The Russell 2000 fell 12 per cent The Stoxx Europe 600 declined 13 per cent The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 15 per cent The MSCI Emerging Markets Index slid 16 per cent Ten-year Treasury yields gained 28 basis points. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced 3.2 per cent The Japanese yen rose 2.8 per cent The euro dropped 4.6 per cent West Texas crude declined 25 per cent to US$45.41 a barrel

Here are some events investors may focus on in coming days:

The U.S. December jobs report is due Friday, Jan. 4. Fed Chair Powell is interviewed with predecessors Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association Friday. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic joins a panel on long-run macroeconomic performance.

And these are the main moves in markets Monday:

Stocks

The S&P 500 Index rose 0.9 per cent as of 4 p.m. New York time. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.8 per cent. The Dow rose 265 points and the Russell 2000 gained 0.8 per cent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.4 per cent to the highest in more than a week. The MSCI All-Country World Index gained 0.3 per cent to the highest in more than a week. The MSCI Emerging Market Index climbed 0.4 per cent to the highest in more than a week.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dipped 0.2 per cent to the lowest in almost 10 weeks. The euro added 0.1 per cent to US$1.1455. The Japanese yen rose 0.6 per cent to 109.613 per dollar, the strongest in about six months.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell three basis points to 2.68 per cent. The two-year yield lost three basis points to 2.49 per cent.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell 1.1 per cent. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 8 cents to US$45.41 a barrel. U.S. natural gas futures slid 9.8 per cent to US$2.979. Gold futures rose 0.1 per cent to US$1,284.30 an ounce.