Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Business

U.S. stocks slump on final day of 'very unrewarding' 2015

U.S. stocks closed lower Thursday, capping the worst year for the market since 2008.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended essentially flat for the year after the day's modest losses nudged it into the red for 2015.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average also closed out the year with a loss. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fared better, delivering a gain for the year.

"It's a lousy end to a pretty lousy year," said Edward Campbell, portfolio manager for QMA, a unit of Prudential Investment Management. "A very unrewarding year."

The Dow ended Thursday down 178.84 points, or 1 percent, to 17,425.03. The S&P 500 index lost 19.42 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,043.94. The Nasdaq composite fell 58.44 points, or 1.2 percent, to 5,007.41.

For 2015, the Dow registered a loss of 2.2 percent. It's the first down year for the Dow since 2008. The Nasdaq ended with a gain of 5.7 percent.

The S&P 500 index, regarded as a benchmark for the broader stock market, lost 0.7 percent for the year.

While U.S. employers added jobs at a solid pace in 2015 and consumer confidence improved, several factors weighed on stocks in 2015.

Investors worried about flat earnings growth, a deep slump in oil prices and the impact of the stronger dollar on revenues in markets outside the U.S. They also fretted about the timing of the Federal Reserve's first interest rate increase in more than a decade.

The uncertainty led to a volatile year in stocks, which hit new highs earlier in the year, but swooned in August as concerns about a slowdown in China's economy helped drag the three major stock indexes into a correction, or a drop of at least 10 percent. The markets recouped most of their lost ground within a few weeks.

On Thursday, nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index ended lower, led by a 1.4 percent decline in technology stocks. Energy stocks, which had been battered recently as commodities prices sank, rose 0.3 percent as oil prices rebounded. The sector still closed out the year down nearly 24 percent, making it the worst performer in the S&P 500.

Benchmark U.S. crude climbed 44 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $37.04 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 82 cents, or 2.2 percent, to close at $37.28 a barrel in London.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.5 percent, putting it down 4.9 percent for the year. France's CAC-40 fared better in 2015, with an 8.5 percent gain, even after slipping 0.9 percent Thursday. Germany's main stock market, which was closed Thursday for the holiday, ended the year with a 9.6 percent gain. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.9 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.1 percent.

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