Stock markets in developed economies were set to record their fourth straight year of gains on Thursday while oil prices cemented losses of more than 35 percent as a roller-coaster year drew to a close.
Ultra-easy monetary policy and pockets of economic resurgence have helped equity valuations break new ground this year. U.S. stocks are finishing 2015 near record highs, European equities have hit all-time peaks and Japanese shares have risen to levels not seen since the turn of the century.
With China’s slowdown and sliding oil prices troubling emerging markets, and global bonds on edge as the United States experiments with its first rate rise in nearly a decade, these shares are seen as among the best bets for investors.
In Europe, where the ECB is pumping more than a trillion euros into the economy, stocks were down 0.2 percent on Thursday but on track for a 7 percent gain on the year.
Analysts expect the pan-European STOXX 600 index to nudge above the 400 mark by the end of 2016. Even if they may not return to this year’s highs of 415, that would mark a gain of some 10 percent from current levels.