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Footsie finishes with a whimper after turbulent year

Published 31/12/2015

On the final half-day session of 2015 the Footsie fell 31.7 points
On the final half-day session of 2015 the Footsie fell 31.7 points

The FTSE 100 Index left investors out of pocket this year, finishing 4.9% down to close at 6242.3.

On the final half-day session of 2015 the Footsie fell 31.7 points, weighed by oil prices that hovered around 11-year lows.

Brent Crude fell 30 cents to 36.16 US dollars, as major suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia have continued pumping crude in a bid to defend their global market shares. The oil price has fallen by more than a third this year.

It has been a turbulent 12 months on the London Stock Exchange, and markets across the world.

The Footsie had opened the year at 6566.

Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell said 2015 has been "quite a spectacular fizzle out from the UK index, especially considering that it was at all-time highs back in April".

It was a year that saw the return of the mega deal, led by Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev buying London-listed Peroni and Grolsch group SABMiller for £71 billion in one of the biggest takeovers in corporate history.

Next came Royal Dutch Shell's £47 billion agreed takeover bid for gas explorer BG announced in April.

February 24 saw the London market break a record that had stood for more than 15 years as the FTSE 100 hit a new all-time high, boosted by investor optimism about the financial crisis in Greece.

Britain's benchmark index of leading shares closed at 6958.89, which meant the FTSE 100 finally surpassed its previous intraday peak of 6950.6 set on December 30 1999, just before the dotcom bubble burst.

The index reached a series of all-time highs before hitting its peak of 7104 on April 27, boasting a total market value of £2 trillion.

But all this was to change in the summer as China's economic woes began to unfold.

Global markets were spooked as China posted slowing gross domestic product figures of around 7% after almost a decade of double-digit growth.

Beijing responded with a series currency devalutions of its yuan to stimulate its economy.

In London, the stock market saw a number of 100-point plus falls, as heavyweight oil and commodity stocks saw their values plunge.

The contagion infected Western markets too. Germany's DAX index fell to more than 20% below its peak, while US stocks see-sawed.

Adding to world market jitters throughout the year was the recovering US economy, leading to guidance from US Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen that the first US interest rate hike from near-zero levels since June 2006 was on the cards.

In normal times this removal of a stimulus measure would be seen as bad for traders, as cheap cash favours investors.

But after a fragile recovery since the financial crisis, this move was seen as a sign that growth was beginning to take hold.

However, uncertainty over when the Fed would pull the trigger on a US hike caused global markets to rise and fall throughout the year.

The Footsie fell to a three-year low of 5874.1 in early December amid intense speculation over a US rates hike and as oil prices plunged.

This was the lowest level since December 2012 and gave the market a value of £1.6 trillion.

In a volatile final month of the year London stocks rose after the US Fed finally called time on near-zero borrowing costs, raising its key interest rate by 0.25% on December 16 and ending a year of uncertainty over monetary policy.

But as December drew on, shares began to fall as oil prices slid further, leaving the market to end the year with more of a whimper than a bang.

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