2015 – A retrospective of Financial Markets

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The year 2016, only few days far, awaits to be stepped in, leaving behind a year ending in uncertainty. While the upcoming year looks bleak for specific financial markets, yet compensating for others, 2015 has had its pack of surprises. Let's reel back through 2015 to again live the major financial events worth highlighting.

It's been indeed a year which had in reserve, unprecedented success for certain assets and simultaneously, devastating turnouts for others. Global financial markets experienced trends worthy to be remembered and good enough to have affected major global economies. Here's a little dose of nostalgia.

Stocks defining the year

The year has been definitely decisive for most markets and has obviously witnessed unapprehended events on the stock market. It might sound exaggerated, but global financial markets and economies have, on several intervals, been driven by the activities of major stocks. Notably, Volkswagen, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook amongst others, have been the stocks much in buzz over the year.

• Scandal of the year

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Volkswagen won itself the limelight for quite a time during the year with its carbon emission scandal. The carmaker has had enough influence to potentially threaten the German and the European economy. Analysts even put forward probabilities of a replica of the Greek economic crisis. Germany's biggest automaker, Volkswagen admitted to have take recourse of an illegal software to falsify U.S diesel emissions tests. The software would be aware of when the car was being tested and thereby, automatically regulate the emission level as per the norms. The carmaker was bound to fix up over 11 million sabotaged cars and saw its shares and sales plunging drastically. September 23rd 2015, was the day when Volkswagen's CEO, Martin Winterkorn, officially resigned from his post in wake of the scandal.

• Best seller of the year

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Giant phone maker, Apple Inc launched its much coveted iPhone 6S and 6S plus on the 25th of September 2015 which had a commendable success on markets. On the launch day iPhone fans were spotted queuing up in heavy rain in Sydney to get their hands on Apple's new jewel. As expected, the phone maker succeeded to set a new record by selling over 13 million iPhone 6S and 6S plus during the weekend ending September 27th after being launched on Friday 25th. The stock also made a buzz when it finally became part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

• Pillars of the S&P 500

The S&P 500 received great support from leading stocks during the year and so, kept it trending pretty good. A surge in Amazon's prices on July 24th, coupled with gains from major stocks as Facebook, Google and Netflix, enhanced the S&P's performance. These stocks account for approximately 60% of 2015's gains. S&P 500 would not have had a great 2015 without these stocks.

End of nearly a decade's wait

The decision fell on the 16th of December 2015. After almost a decade's wait, the Federal Reserve finally came up with an interest rate hike given a U.S economy growing healthily. The U.S economy, reportedly recovered from the 2007-2009 economic crisis was strong enough to experience a rise in interest rates and so, after a two-day meeting starting December 15th, Fed's Chair, Janet Yellen gave the greenlight for a historical hike of between 0.25 and 0.50%. During the same period, considerable improvements in the U.S labor market were noticed along with unemployment rates dipping by 5%. Janet Yellen also announced that the U.S might experience further rate hikes if the economy continues to get better. This event definitely took global markets by control and affected the trends of most assets.

Wall Street's lowest

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August 21st marked the day when Wall street experienced its lowest one-day plunge in almost four years. The Chinese economic debacle weighing and provoking fears of a China-led global economic slowdown caused the Dow industrials to shed gains by more than 10%. Investors awaiting an interest rate hike by the Fed along with falling energy prices, coupled to set the scene for the phenomenal dip. The sudden devaluation of the Yuan by China made the stock market increasingly volatile and caused the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to considerable lows.

Black Gold's Doom

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Crude markets have and still undergo great volatility and trend in uncertainty as a global oversupply continues to weigh on crude prices. The $50 a barrel bar became a hard to realise goal while prices are even expected to dip to the $20 a barrel bar. Falling demand levels and persistent oversupply from Russia and the OPEC, coupled with an export ban liftoff by the U.S and Iran expected to start supplying normally again, have had huge contribution in dragging prices down. While the glut remains practically unaltered, oil market are to step into 2016 in uncertainty and a high probability of hitting unprecedented lows.

It's been a generous 2015

No doubt it has been one. 99%. The the amount of Facebook's shares the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife decided to give off to a new foundation having as aim to work for human potential and equality. This announcement followed upon the birth of Zuckerberg's daughter Maxima Chan Zuckerberg. The shares to be given away are worth $45 billion and Mark anticipates further such philanthropic acts while remaining the CEO of Facebook.

Welcome the next surprise pack.

As such 2015 has been a year full of unexpected turnouts. While global financial markets await a better year ahead, though analysts deem it bleak for specific assets, investors shall be equipped with experience good enough to face yet another financial year to come with its share of surprises.

Warren Tancredi By: Warren Tancredi