The Irish Stock Exchange's ISEQ index rose 30% in 2015 to close at 6,791.68 making Dublin one of Europe's top stock market performers. However with 58 issues overall including ones of foreign origin, only four firms — CRH (its primary listing is in London), Ryanair, BOI (Bank of Ireland) and Kerry — accounted for 66% of market capitalisation.

 

We have excluded the anomalous value of €18bn for the state-owned Allied Irish Banks.

CRH had an end of year valuation of €22.0bn; Ryanair €19.8bn; Kerry €13.4bn and BOI €10.9bn — see data here.

Ryanair's share prices jumped by 53% in 2015; CRH rose 34% and Kerry gained 33%.

Elsewhere, the Shanghai Composite index was up 9.4% in 2015 despite a 43% summer plunge; Argentina rose 36.1%; Denmark 36.2% and Hungary 43.8%.

Bloomberg reports that the pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 6.8% last year, less than half its average annual return since global equities bottomed in 2009 and falling short of the 14% gain forecast by banks and brokerages a year ago. At the same time, viewed against what was available in equities elsewhere, it was the best showing in a decade.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 4.4% in 2014; 17.4% in 2013 and a 14.4% climb in 2012.

Germany’s DAX 30 index had a 9.6% gain boosted by a weak euro, which fell nearly 10% against the dollar this year.

France’s CAC 40 gained 8.5% while the UK’s FTSE 100 index dropped 4.9% in 2015 due to its heavy exposure to commodity markets.

In Greece, the Athex Composite Index plunged 23.6% in 2015.

The Wall Street Journal reports that US stocks had their worst annual performance since 2008, closing out a rocky year that tempered investors’ expectations for gains in 2016.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a basket of 30 stocks, lost 2.2% in 2015, while the broader S&P 500 fell 0.7%.

The S&P’s loss ended three years of double-digit gains for the index, but was far from the nearly 40% dive it took in 2008, a year of financial crisis. The energy sector was the biggest faller in the S&P 500, declining 24%.
Chesapeake Energy tumbled 77% and was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500.

However, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose 5.7%. Netflix and Amazon.com, the top-performing stocks in the S&P 500 in percentage terms, rose 134% and 118%, respectively. The consumer discretionary sector, which includes stocks such as Starbucks and Expedia, led the S&P 500 with an 8.4% gain.

Irish share prices, ISEQ, 2015

MSCI Asia Pacific index closed down more than 4% while the MSCI ex-Japan shed nearly 12% in 2015.

Apart from the rise of the Shanghai Composite index by 9.4%, Japan's Nikkei index gained 9.1% in 2015 to end at its highest level in 19 years. New Zealand's NZX-50 index was the best regional performer up 13.6% for the year to close at a record high as dairy prices rose from earlier lows.

India's S&P BSE Sensex dipped 5% in 2015 after hitting an all-time high of 30,024.74 on 4 March. It jumped 30% in 2014.

South Korea's Kospi average gained 2.4% in 2015 while Australia's S&P/ASX lost 2.1%.

Bursa Malaysia's KLCI index fell 3.9%.

Commodities and currencies

The Thomson Reuters CRB commodities index fell 24% to 6-year lows in 2015.

The price of oil skidded to 11-year lows.

After falling from over $100 a barrel in 2014 to nearly $50 a barrel, US oil prices plunged 30% in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, dipped 35% to $37.28 a barrel.

US prices had a second straight annual loss for the first time since 1998. Brent prices fell for a third straight year according to The Wall Street Journal.

The ICE Dollar Index, a measure of the dollar against a basket of major currencies, rose 8.9% in the year while Reuters reports that among more widely-traded currencies, the five worst performing have been the Argentinean peso and Brazilian real, with losses of more than 30% versus the dollar; the South African rand, Turkish lira and the Russian rouble, have tumbled more than 18%.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that the Malaysian ringgit fell 22.75% during 2015, lagging all Asian peers and chalking its biggest yearly decline since 1997.After the ringgit, the Indonesian rupiah fell the most for the year with an 11.0% decline. The Thai baht and the Singapore dollar fell 9.8% and 6.6%. The Philippine peso declined 4.8%. The Korean won and Taiwanese dollar fell 7.5% and 3.9% in 2015.

Reuters reports that since May 2014, the US dollar has appreciated by a quarter in value against a basket of currencies and by 22% against the euro. For the year, the US currency rose over 10% against the euro for its second straight yearly gain.

Against the yen, the dollar eked out a 0.4% gain to mark its fourth straight yearly rise against the yen.

Reuters says that the dollar has lost almost 5% to the euro in the past month and the dollar index almost 2% while sterling, driven to an 8-month low by fears over Britain's referendum on leaving the European Union, has fallen 4.7% against a basket of currencies, including the dollar, this year.

The euro weakened by 6.3% against sterling in 2015.