Global stocks are set to close out the worst year since the 2008 financial crisis after the battle by central banks to tame inflation and the war in Ukraine sent powerful waves rushing across asset markets. The broad MSCI All-World index of developed and emerging market equities has shed nearly a fifth of its value in 2022, with bourses from Wall Street to Shanghai and Frankfurt all notching up significant losses. Bond markets also endured heavy selling: the US 10-year government bond yield, a global benchmark for long-term borrowing costs, has shot up to 3.8 per cent from about 1.5 per cent at the end of last year — the biggest annual increase on Bloomberg records stretching to the 1960s.
Global dealmaking suffered a record fall during the second half of this year, as rising interest rates and economic uncertainty brought a period of frenzied activity to an abrupt close. Mergers and acquisitions worth $1.4tn were announced during the six months to December, down from the $2.2tn agreed in the first half of 2022. It was the biggest swing, from one six-month period to the next, since records began in 1980. The overall volume of deals struck globally in 2022 was down 38 per cent from 2021, the largest year-on-year drop since 2001.
European natural gas prices have fallen to levels last recorded before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, as warmer weather helps the continent to preserve its reserves.