The market and the economy in 2012
As in recent years, the financial markets in 2012 were characterised by political risk, marked pessimism and the occasional glint of hope and greed, and the unceasing pursuit of the next macroeconomic key figure and nervous interpretation of ambiguous indicators.
And yet again, much of the information flow could best be described as short-term noise. Most companies carried on as normal, making money and building value for their shareholders, employees and lenders. The upshot was that, taken as a whole, 2012 turned out to be a more than satisfactory year for players in most sections of the financial markets.
Even so, 2012 saw certain structural changes of interest as well as concealing some danger signals that it might be worth bearing in mind. In our assessment, the key features of the 2012 financial year were:
weak growth in leading Western countries produced lower interest rates.
Sound growth on the part of our real trade drivers made for good export conditions.
This combination fuelled an upturn in the stock market and a record year on the bond market.
The Norwegian economy was solid to the core – but was probably more oil-fuelled than most people realise.
2012 in a nutshell
|S&P 500 return||+16.0%|
|MSCI World net (USD)||+15.8%|
|3-month NIBOR||from 2.89 to 1.83%|
|10 year Norwegian Treasury||from 2.41 to 2.04%|
|Share turnover Oslo Børs (value)||-35.2%|
|Brent Blend||from USD 106.87 to USD 109.89|
|USD/NOK||from 5.99 to 5.57|
|EUR/NOK||from 7.75 to 7.34|
|GDP growth global||3.4%|
|GDP growth Norway||2.7%|
|GDP growth Mainland Norway||3.8%|
Sources: Oslo Børs, S&P Dow Jones Indices, MSCI, Norges Bank, FactSet, IMF, SSB, Pareto. GDP growth is updated with revised estimates after the respective Pareto annual reports were published.