The stock market year that ended on Monday was not a suitable course for weak hearts. The United States Stock Exchange has lurched until the last moment. Wall Street was hung in August the medal for the biggest bull run in its history. But that has not prevented several days of shaking, especially in December. The last month of the year was fateful and locked in only 48 hours the worst trading day for a Christmas Eve (it dropped suddenly 2.9%), followed by the highest rise for a post-Christmas session in its history, with a rebound of almost 5 % on December 26.
The balance of the year, in any case, is negative, no matter where you look: in the United States, the Dow Jones and the S & P500 ended up worth about 6% less than in 2017; in Europe the blow is greater, with decreases of 14.3% in the Eurostoxx; of almost 15% in Madrid (in its worst year since 2010); 12.5% in London and 18% in Frankfurt. The floor of Tokyo has been left 12% in the year, and that of Hong Kong, 13.6%.
Despite the turbulence, the unbeatable power of the technology is still there. Of the 10 largest companies in the world by value in the stock market, eight are linked to the Internet or electronic devices. Microsoft leads, which climbs from third place in 2017 to the throne (it rose by 17% in 2018 and it is worth over 686,000 million euros in stock), followed by Apple (almost 654,000 million, after falling more than 7%); Amazon sneaks into the podium with a value of 642,000 million, after a boost of more than 26% and Google (has ended almost the same, at 632,000 million). All have a stratospheric capitalization. And now pretty close. Because Apple no longer reigns far above the others.
Sneaks into fifth place, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment firm of the oracle Warren Buffett, another classic of global financial power, which wins two positions. And then, more technology: Facebook, the social network, gets the seventh place after being surpassed by the Chinese giant Tencent. The signing of Zuckerberg loses a position with respect to 2017, after a turbulent year full of accusations about the irregular use of the data that have made him fall about 24.5% in the Stock Exchange in 2018. Just after the other Chinese cyclops appears: the great online sale bazaar Alibaba. The two Chinese companies consolidate their position among the top 10.
Despite their stock market power, technology companies have not had a quiet year either. The ups and downs and the fight to dominate the market marked 2018. It started with Apple as the undisputed leader. And on August 2, it became the first company listed on Wall Street that reached a market valuation of one trillion dollars -861.220 million euros-. Only one other company in the world had achieved it: PetroChina achieved that brand a decade ago in the Shanghai Stock Exchange. But that was long ago in the water of booze.
Apple's milestone was followed on September 4 by Amazon: it also exceeded one trillion dollars in the stock market. However, the two firms seemed to fall into the curse of the round figure. The following weeks deflated. Apple presented in November some record accounts for the year: it won 52,500 million euros, more than ever. But nothing has prevented, like Amazon, lower the piston in the final stretch of the year. In part, because for both analysts made more moderate short and medium-term growth forecasts.
Along the way, the one that has resurfaced is Microsoft. He has gone back to the altars. Just after the end of November, it beat Apple for the first time since 2010 as the most valuable company in the world. Hand in hand with its CEO Satya Nadella, data management services and cloud programs have brought him back to the top of the wave.
United States, dominant
The photograph that left the course of the Stock Exchange after finishing 2018 seems quite by nationality to the one of 2017. The tariff fight between the United States and China has marked the world economy and the list of commercial risks. But in the stock market, at the moment, it has not been a turning point. Of the 50 most valuable companies in the world, 31 are from the United States (in 2017 there were 30). And it has eight among the top 10. For their part, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong place nine among the 50 most valuable in the world. And Switzerland, the great European representative, returns to get three positions.
If the world is different now from a decade ago, after the shock of the Great Recession, the stock market has experienced a real earthquake. The list of the most valuable companies on the planet has very little to do with 2008. Ten years ago, oil and finance dominated the parquet.
Petrochina was the big winner, with a quotation of more than 714,000 million dollars. The top positions were dominated by energy and banks: among the ten best positions were the American Exxon Mobil, General Electric (now ranked 174), Gazprom, Royal Duch and Petrobras (now it has fallen to 110). Also the Chinese bank ICBC stood out in the fifth place and Bank of China in the 22nd.
The first technological of the list of 2008 was Microsoft, in the eighth position. Google did not make an appearance until the 16th place. Amazon was in step 189, well below Nokia, which then boxed among the heavyweights, with a worthy 34th place, compared to 387 that occupied in 2018. Alibaba and Facebook were not quoted. The Stock Exchange changes very quickly and a decade is now a long time in the markets.