By Tunde Osho (with agency reports)
The value of public companies on global stock markets grew by $12.4 trillion in 2017, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, which included dividends in its calculation. According to CNN, a number of markets even outperformed the United States. Here’s a look at the biggest stock market winners of 2017:
The United States: U.S. stocks were front and center as investors bet on strong economic growth, solid corporate earnings and hopes that President Trump would roll back regulations. Trump also boosted markets with a big corporate tax cut. The Dow Jones industrial average shot up by 25%, the S&P 500 surged by 20% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index outshined them with all with a stunning 29% gain.
Argentina: Argentina’s Merval index surged 73% this year and hit a record high the day after Christmas. The election of President Mauricio Macri in late 2015 proved to be a turning point: The economy is growing and stocks have rallied strongly. The Merval gained 45% in 2016. Macri pursued a number of economic reforms this year, helping to further boost business confidence. “President Macri navigated political risks well in 2017, and with no elections scheduled in 2018, Argentina actually stands out as a political safe haven in Latin America for the year ahead,” said asset management firm Algebris Investments. Still, there’s more to be done: Inflation is above 20% and the currency continues to weaken.
Nigeria: The Nigerian All-Share index is still miles below record highs set in early 2008, but a 43% rally in 2017 has helped to close the gap. The index suffered mightily in 2015 and 2016 as low oil prices, militant attacks, currency troubles, elections and Ebola hit investor sentiment. But oil prices have moved higher, the central bank has made it easier to swap currencies and the economy has snapped out of recession, explained Zin Bekkali, founder and CEO of Silk Invest.
Many analysts are optimistic that stocks could keep rising in 2018. “If you look at where we stand today, the [Nigerian] market is still one of the cheapest markets on the planet,” said Bekkali.
Turkey: An attempted coup in 2016 and a series of terror attacks sent chills through the Turkish economy. Yet the country’s benchmark index rallied by 43% this year as the government implemented temporary tax cuts and a loan guarantee program that encouraged banks to lend to small businesses. GDP growth soared, reaching 11.1% in the third quarter. The stock market performance was also helped by the falling Turkish lira, said Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics. Now experts are warning that the good times can’t last forever. “From here on we think the economy is getting close to overheating,” said Daniel Salter, global head of equities at Renaissance Capital.
Hong Kong: The Hang Seng charged ahead by nearly 35%, but China’s major mainland indexes in Shanghai and Shenzhen floundered.