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Global markets: Wall Street retreats, Asian stocks surge

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Divergent trends emerged on Friday’s final trading day, capturing the essence of the economic landscape in 2023.

Wall Street, after a surge that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching new peaks and the S&P 500 approaching a record, experienced a midday retreat. However, the Dow closed the year over 13 percent higher, and the S&P 500 boasted a nearly 24 percent increase.

Analysts from Charles Schwab noted that signs point to an economy resilient to rate hikes, as the market embraced moderating inflation and a robust labor market.

Asia’s Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index, although finishing lower on Friday, exhibited an impressive overall surge of more than 28 percent in 2023, marking its best performance in a decade.

This surge was attributed to factors such as Warren Buffett’s positive comments on Japanese equities and expectations for structural reforms.

Europe celebrated the end of the year on a high note, with London, Paris, and Frankfurt all closing in the green.

Frankfurt registered a yearly gain of 20.3 percent, and Paris 16.5 percent, reaching new record heights. However, London’s gain was more modest at less than four percent, influenced by extreme uncertainty and upward pressure on interest rates.

China’s economic recovery faced challenges from prolonged pandemic lockdowns, impacting Chinese stocks.

Despite this, Huawei’s positive outlook for 2023 revenue growth by nine percent provided a bright spot in the Chinese tech sector amid ongoing US sanctions.

Oil prices globally rose on Friday due to disruptions in Red Sea shipping. However, the year marked the biggest decline in crude oil since 2020, as OPEC’s efforts to curb production and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East proved inefficient in boosting oil market appetite.

Gold, on the other hand, shone throughout the year, hitting record heights as a haven investment in times of economic and geopolitical unrest.

As markets closed around 1640 GMT:

New York witnessed a 0.3 percent dip in the Dow at 37,613.18 points.

Paris saw the CAC 40 inching up 0.1 percent to 7,543.18.

Frankfurt experienced a 0.3 percent increase in the DAX, closing at 16,751.64.

London reported a 0.1 percent uptick in the FTSE 100, ending at 7,733.24.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 closed down 0.2 percent at 33,464.17.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index remained flat at 17,047.39.

Shanghai’s Composite index rose 0.7 percent to 2,974.93.

In currency markets, the Euro/dollar saw a slight decrease, while the Dollar/yen declined. The Pound/dollar increased, and the Euro/pound decreased.

Oil prices showed an uptick with West Texas Intermediate rising 0.6 percent to $72.22 per barrel, and Brent North Sea Crude increasing 0.7 percent to $77.67 per barrel.

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