US stocks declined in the final trading session of the year on Thursday, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average posting their first annual losses since 2008.
The S&P 500 Index closed down 0.9% on Thursday, pushing the large-cap index into the red for the first time since 2008. The S&P 500 fell 0.7% in 2015, ending three straight years of double-digit gains. Including dividends, the S&P 500 rose 1.4%.
Six of the S&P 500’s ten main sectors posted losses in 2015, led by a 24.1% plunge for energy shares. Materials stocks and utilities also fell by more than 10%.
The consumer discretionary component was the largest gainer, adding 8% for the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 179 points or 1% in low volume trade on Thursday. The Dow declined 2.2% in all of 2015, also its worst performance since 2008 when it plunged 34% amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index closed down 1.2% on Thursday, but finished 5.7% higher for the year.
The final week of the year was characterized by large price swings in both directions, indicative of low seasonal trading volumes. However, December was a disappointing month for the US stock markets, with all three of the major averages declining more than 2.6%.
Asian stock markets also ended lower on Thursday, with the Euro Stoxx 50 closing down 0.6%. The benchmark Eurozone gauge rose 3.9% in 2015 despite a 6.1% decline in December.
London’s FTSE 100 Index also closed down 0.5% on Thursday, which translated into a yearly drop of nearly 5%.
The German DAX remained closed on New Year’s Eve. It finished with yearly gains of 9.6% despite heavy December losses.
In commodities, oil prices stabilized in the last trading session of 2015. The US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude benchmark rose 44 cents or 1.2% to $37.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Global benchmark Brent crude climbed 82 cents or 2.3% to $37.28 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
In currencies, the US dollar extended its rally to four days on Thursday, climbing 0.4% against a basket of world currencies. The dollar index, a weighted average of the US currency against a basket of six rivals, closed at 98.63, its highest level since December 18.
The global financial markets remained closed on New Year’s Day. They will reopen on Monday, January 4 for the first session of the year.
Based out of Toronto, Canada, Husni Sam Borji is senior macroeconomics analysts who contributes regularly to TradersDNA, where he examines the global financial markets. Husni Sam has authored dozens of government reports and industry whitepapers, as well as thousands of financial articles. Husni Sam holds a BA from the University of Windsor and a Master’s degree in Economic Public Policy from McMaster University.
His expertise includes macroeconomics, fundamental analysis, industry research and global political economy.