Monday, 2 January 2012

Risk assets shunned in 2011

2011 was a year that saw investors lose some of their risk appetite as a result of worries over sovereign debt in Europe and a slowing global economy.

Stocks were down last year. The MSCI All Country World Index fell 9.4 percent.

The STOXX Europe 600 Index fell 11.3 percent in 2011. During the course of the year, it entered a bear market. At its low in September, the index was down 26.2 percent from the year's peak. A rebound in the final quarter saw it cut its loss.

Despite the supposedly better financial health of its economies, Asian stock markets suffered even bigger losses than their European counterparts over the year. The MSCI All Country Asia Pacific Index fell 17.3 percent in 2011.

In contrast, the stock market in the United States finished little changed. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was practically unchanged for the year while the Dow Jones Industrial Average even managed to gain 5.5 percent.

Commodity prices also mostly fell last year. The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index declined 8.3 percent in 2011, its first annual loss in three years.

However, crude oil bucked the trend in commodities. US crude oil rose 8.2 percent as political instability in oil-producing countries in North Africa and the Middle East more than offset economic growth concerns.

Gold also gained in 2011, rising 10.2 percent. Political and financial turmoil throughout the year helped the safe haven achieve its eleventh consecutive year of gains.

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