TRUCKEE, Calif. - The year 2012 was good for global stock markets and the economy in general. The US unemployment rate has continued to decline and GDP is growing although at a modest rate. The S&P 500 will close the year up about 14 percent. In global markets, the FTSE was up about 5 percent, the STOXX was up 16 percent, the Hang Seng index was up 22 percent and the Japanese Nikkei finished up 23 percent.The best performing sector of the major S&P groups was the financials who will finish the year up almost 25 percent. Consumer discretionary stocks also had a good showing and will finish the year up about 20 percent. Utilities were the worst performing sector and were the only S&P sector to finish in the red this year, down about -4 percent. Energy was another disappointing sector and will be basically flat for the year.It was also a good year for precious metals. Gold is on track for its twelfth straight year of gains and will finish the year up about 6 percent. Silver closed the year with an 8 percent gain.Oil is heading for a record year with the average annual price going to settle around $111 per barrel. This will be the fourth straight yearly gain for the price of oil. Unleaded gasoline rose by 20 percent.Housing was another bright spot in 2012, the US home construction ETF was up over 75 percent and several of the major homebuilder stocks doubled in value. Home values have been rising and new housing starts have been improving.Interest rates have stayed at record lows with the benchmark ten year US Treasury yielding about 1.7 percent and the thirty year Treasury bond yielding 2.9 percent. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve board, has stated that interest rates should continue to remain low into 2015.Over the course of the year issues with sovereign debt from the Euro zone weighed on the markets somewhat and may continue into 2013. As the year closed the fiscal cliff issue was the most prominent news driving the markets. It looks like we are closer to a deal, but as the markets close for 2012 it is still not announced. The final resolution of the fiscal cliff will certainly have an impact on the market's performance for the year ahead.Kenneth Roberts is a Truckee based Registered Investment Advisor. Information on his money management service can be found at his blog at www.sellacalloption.com or by calling 775-657-8065. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial adviser before purchasing any security.
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