Expectations of a continuation of expansive central bank policy, a long-term low level of interest rates and a moderate economic revival in industrialised countries has led to substantial price gains on major stock exchanges. The US Dow Jones industrial (DJI), for example, not only achieved new historical highs, but also recorded the largest price gains seen in close to twenty years. There was, however, no global bull market in equities in 2013, as many small equity markets and, in particular, the stock exchanges in many emerging markets only achieved moderate gains, or even suffered price losses.

The global MSCI World share index recorded a sharp upwards movement in equity prices in the initial months of 2013, although US stock exchanges (and the Japanese equity market) were already clearly outperforming the rest of the world even in the first months of the year. A significant correction then began during May due to concerns about more restrictive central bank monetary policy in the future that pushed the MSCI World index back down to almost the same level as the beginning of the year. Central banks, and in particular the US Federal Reserve, successfully dispelled concerns about a rapid reduction in expansive measures, leading to significant price gains during the third quarter. Even a temporary escalation in the US budget conflict and a slight reduction in economic forecasts for 2014 only had a short-lived effect on the good mood in major global stock exchanges, resulting in an impressive 24.1% increase in the MSCI World index for 2013 as a whole.

The US equity market was the driving force behind the price movements. The Dow Jones industrial index regained the price level it had before the 2008/09 crisis for the first time in March 2013. Prices continued to rise during the course of the year, climbing until the final trading day of 2013 to a record value of 16,576.66 points. This represents an increase of 26.5% compared to the end of 2012. The outstanding performance achieved by the US equity market was surpassed by the Tokyo stock exchange in 2013 due to the emphasis placed on expansive policy by the new Japanese government elected in December 2012, which led to a veritable explosion of prices. After major price fluctuations, the Nikkei 225 leading index recorded an increase of 56.7% to the end of 2013.

The European Eurostoxx 50 share index also achieved impressive performance in the end, recording an increase of 17.9% in 2013. Unlike the US and Japanese indices, the Eurostoxx 50 recorded practically no increase in the first half of the year,

  • especially because of the concerns about economic growth in France,
  • a lack of clarity about majority status following the parliamentary elections in Italy, and
  • the Cyprus crisis, which led to a re-emergence of concerns about the debt crisis.

Good price performance in the second half of the year, which was approximately equivalent to that in the US and Japan, led to the positive gains for the year indicated above.

The performance of emerging market stock exchanges was less satisfactory, as investors withdrew capital from these markets in 2013. The MSCI Emerging Markets index consequently fell by 5.1% over the course of the year, with losses rising to more than 15% at times during the year compared to the end of 2012. The CEE countries were also affected by the negative market sentiment. The Eastern European CECE index, which is calculated in euros, fell by 9.6% in spite of favourable economic forecasts.