Equity markets: 2019, a year in three stages
After a disappointing performance in 2018, equity markets had an excellent year 2019. At the beginning of the year, the main driving force for the stock market advance was the shift in central bank monetary policy (from less flexible in 2018 to new easing in the course of 2019). As from May, the markets were dominated by a new tariff escalation in the trade conflict between the United States and China. After the summer, the boom resumed, supported by signals of a stabilisation in economic activity and the prospect of a first phase of a trade agreement. After the summer months, the markets were also characterised by a rotation both at a sector level and - to a lesser extent - at a geographical level. The European equity markets, which are heavily weighted in the cyclical and financial sectors, performed relatively stronger after the summer. In December, it was above all the Emerging Markets that outperformed, not only the Asian region but also Latin America. The performance of US and Japanese equities over the past month was partly offset by the negative currency evolution of both countries.