Stock Markets: 2023’s winners and losers

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 29: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the last day of trading for the year on December 29, 2023 in New York City. The Dow was up slightly in morning trading in what has been a strong year for the stock market despite many economists predictions that the American economy would experience a recession. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images

This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our new, international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

What you need to know today

First and last trading day
Asia-Pacific markets kicked off 2024 mixed. China’s Shanghai Composite dipped 0.21% as official data showed the country’s manufacturing activity contracted in December. Meanwhile, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5%. On Friday, the last trading day of the year, U.S. stocks disappointed investors who were hoping the S&P 500 would close the year on a record high. Still, it was a mighty good year for major indexes.

Bright spots in Asia
The outlook for Asian markets in 2024 is “relatively promising,” according to Pinebridge Investments, which said China and India — Asia’s two biggest economies — can’t be overlooked. Their view is supported by the International Monetary Fund, which projects a higher growth rate for Asia compared with the global rate. Here’s what to pay attention to for the region in 2024.

Bullish on bitcoin
Bitcoin rallied about 152% in 2023 despite high-profile criminal cases against cryptocurrency exchanges FTX and Binance. Bitcoin was last trading above $45,300 — and many industry executives think the cryptocurrency’s poised for a new bull run, thanks to an event known as “halving” and the potential approval of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the U.S.

BYD set to beat Tesla
BYD said it produced more than 3 million new EVs in 2023, putting the Chinese electric vehicle maker on track to surpass Tesla, in terms of production, for a second straight year. Tesla is due to release its full-year figures later on Tuesday. But according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Elon Musk’s EV company produced 1.35 million vehicles during the first three quarters of 2023.

[PRO] Alternative assets?
Interest in alternative assets — which include anything outside public market assets like stocks, bonds, commodities and cash — looks to be growing. It’s no surprise for some analysts, who think there’s “incredible value in private markets.” But others aren’t so sure. Read what the pros say on navigating the private market.

The bottom line

Instead of ending the year with a bang by surpassing its all-time high, the S&P 500 let out a whimper — to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot’s famous lines — and fell 0.28% on the last trading day of 2023.

Other major indexes lost momentum and retreated too. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched down 0.05% and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.56%.

As with any market move, it’s hard to attribute any definitive reason to it. I think, however, the S&P’s December rally was too reliant on the Federal Reserve’s dovish pivot. Without further positive news, and with the optimism priced in already, the S&P didn’t have a concrete reason to rise further.

Moreover, several analysts have pointed out that stocks are already priced above their fair valuation; that is, the price of a stock may be too high relative to its earnings per share.

“Arguably, the bull market is overbought, and there are too many bulls,” Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research wrote. Echoing that sentiment, Sarat Sethi, managing partner at DCLA, told CNBC he thinks “valuations are stretched.”

Still, let’s not throw away the baby with the bathwater. Friday’s disappointing session aside, 2023 has been a banner year for a huge swathe of the market. Here are, in my book, the biggest winners and losers of last year:

Winners

  • U.S. indexes: For 2023, the S&P jumped 24.23%, the Dow gained 13.8% and the Nasdaq rocketed 43.42%.
  • Bitcoin: Shrugging off the high-profile criminal cases against FTX and Binance, bitcoin surged around 152%.
  • Gold: The precious metal recorded its first annual gain since 2020 of 13%, as geopolitical risks and peak interest rates made gold shinier to investors.

Losers

Although part of financial journalism necessarily involves making predictions, a quick glance at that list shows how difficult it is to do so. Going into 2023, many thought a recession was in the cards. Instead, markets were dealt a winning hand. Here’s hoping 2024 thwarts all the negative predictions and delivers positive surprises too.

Happy 2024!



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