AUSTRALIA – Shares in Australia dropped on the last trading day of the year. Despite that, 2019 remains the ASX 200’s best year in decades.
The S&P/ASX 200 dropped by 0.25% as Sydney’s stock market closed. There were several big winners despite the sluggish market. Pilbara Minerals Ltd went up by 0.025 points or 9.43%. The company was trading at 0.290 as the day ended.
NRW Holdings Ltd also enjoyed gains. It was up 0.150 points or 4.66% to hit a five-year high of 3.370. Meanwhile, Pro Medicus Ltd jumped 1.020 points or 4.34% to end at 24.540.
On the flip side, the Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd slipped by 0.390 points or 4.25% to end at 8.790. Charter Hall Retail Reit and Vicinity Centres Re Ltd also traded lower today. The former declined by 0.130 points or 2.93% while the latter dropped 0.080 points or 3.07%.
The day saw shares in the country’s industrial and utilities sector trade lower, but the number of rising stocks surpass that of declining ones 597 to 477.
Australia’s crude oil for February delivery went up 0.05 or 0.08% to reach $61.77 per barrel. The March Brent oil agreement also went up by 0.15 or 0.22%. It’s currently trading at $67.02 per barrel.
The AUD/JPY dropped 0.14% to 76.27 while the AUD/USD pair went up 0.15% to 0.6987.
Australian shares might have dipped at the end of the year, but 2019 will go down as one of the best years the ASX has experienced this century.
The ASX 200 rose by 21%. It’s the index’s third memorable year after 2009 and 2004. It gained 31% and 23% respectively during those years. But what sets 2019 apart is that the gains were made on fragile ground.
The world economy has slowed and will likely follow the same pattern next year. The year also saw China and the US continuously embroiled in a trade war while the UK contended with the Brexit issue. The local economy wasn’t good either, with unemployment up, wages and real estate at a standstill, and retail sales worse than before.
Fortunately, there were several positive developments before Christmas that saw markets rallying. The US and China finally came to an initial agreement while the results of the UK elections gave investors a sense of certainty on Brexit.
The news pushed US equities to all-time highs while the ASX 200 were more cautious. The MSCI also went up 25.5%. And while the ASX 200’s gains are modest when compared to the S&P 500, but it’s far better than China and the UK.