Major world sharemarkets have closed for the year after their worst annual performances since the Great Depression, all losing more than 30%.
Benchmarket indices in London and Tokyo had their largest declines on record with JapanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Nikkei 225 faring worst with a 42% drop.
The yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final day of trading on Wall Street is up for the second day, paring the annual loss on the main Dow Jones index to 34%. It closed for the year at 8776.39, its worst annual showing since 1931.
The broader S&P500 is also up, cutting its annual loss to 39%. It closed the year at 903.25.
In Europe, the regional MSCI index lost 45% while its Asian equivalent lost 43%.
In London, stocks climbed for a third day before closing for the year. The FTSE100 index finished at 4434.17, its biggest fall since it was developed in 1984.
The worst performers were HBOS, a troubled bank that lost more than 90% of its value, and Royal Bank of Scotland, which lost 87%.
The FTSE 100Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s decline was the smallest among indexes for the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 20 biggest markets in local currency terms, data compiled by Bloomberg show. In US dollar terms, the UK benchmark index tumbled more than 49%, thanks to the huge slump in the pound (see below).
FranceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cac40 index closed for the year nearly 43% down at 3217.97. GermanyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dax30 index finished trading on Tuesday at 4810.20 for an annual loss of 40%.
Only three of 89 major indices tracked by Bloomberg posted gains in 2008, as equities lost $US30 trillion in value. GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s All-Share Index was the best performer, surging 60%.
While the global economic slowdown weighed on stocks in 2008, US government bonds had their best year since 1995.
Currencies: Yen tops in 2008
The Japanese yen made the biggest gain for the year as major world currencies re-aligned substantially. The yen and the US dollar both advanced versus the euro, which has almost reached parity against the pound, the yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest major currency casualty.
The US dollar fell the most against the yen in more than two decades. The dollar last traded at Ã‚Â¥90.76, a fall of 19%.
The dollar is trading $US1.3947 per euro, boosting its advance this year to 4.7%. The euro declined 22% for the year to Ã‚Â¥126.58.
(The yenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest gains were against the New Zealand dollar (up 62%) and the Australian dollar (up 55%).)
The euro, which today marks its 10th birthday, has gained 30% this year against the pound, partly due to the lower central bank rate of 2.0% in the UK versus the European Central BankÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2.5%.
The euro last traded at 95.59p after earlier in the day reaching a record high of 98.03p.
The South African rand was the worst performer against the US dollar in 2008 among major currencies tracked by Bloomberg, weakening 27% to 9.3375.
Commodities: Oil drops most in 2008
Crude oil prices made their biggest annual decline since trading began in 1983. Prices have tumbled 72% since hitting a record $US147.27 a barrel on July 11.
Crude oil for February delivery finished the year at $US41.42 a barrel in New York, down 57% this year, the first annual decline since 2001 when oil fell 26%.
Gold prices made their eighth straight annual gain, rising 4% to finish the year at $US866.90 an ounce after topping $US890 last Monday.
In March, gold reached a record $US1032.70. It has rallied 13% this month as tension in the Middle East rose with IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attacks on Hamas-ruled Gaza.
February-delivery gold was $US867.40 in New York.
Source: The National Business Review