It’s been a tumultuous year – the FTSE 100 lost nearly £60bn, Greece came within a whisker of leaving the Eurozone, and China threatened to derail the global economy sending commodity prices to their lowest levels in 16 years.
The year got off to a good start with January seeing more than 200 points added to the index of the UK’s largest companies.
However, trouble was in store, and it was a victim of a 2014 profit scandal – high street giant Tesco – which set the tune to which the rest of the year would be played.
Tesco had lost almost half its value in 2014, so 2015 was always seen by investors as a rebuilding year. Following the £263m profit overstatement its new boss, Dave Lewis, announced the closure of 43 unprofitable stores as well as shelving plans to open a further 49 stores.
Adding further salt to Tesco’s wounds were the German discounters, Aldi and Lidl, which marched on throughout 2015, having now doubled their market share in just three years, to 10%.
Although Tesco fared somewhat better in 2015, its share price still fell a further 20% – falling to an 18-year low.
Apple became the first company ever to be valued at $700bn, nearly half a trillion pounds.
Despite reaching this milestone the stock didn’t prove immune to the wider economic slowdown, slipping 4% this year but comfortably retaining the crown of the world’s biggest company
If you had invested the cost of an iPod ($399) when it was first launched in October 2001 into Apple shares, those shares would now be worth $33,051.
After a stellar start to the year the FTSE 100 hit an all-time highbreaking the 7,000 barrier for the first time in March, as oil showed what turned out to be premature signs of a recovery.
The previous high had been reached 16 years earlier in the heights of the dotcom boom – in February of that year the market reached 6,950.
With oil prices still 40% lower than their June 2014 peak Shell decided to get into bed with liquid natural gas giant BG group.
The £47bn deal prompted a 42% rise in BG Group shares and was widely considered a good one, provided the oil price recovery continued.
Unfortunately it didn’t. Since that announcement the price of Brent crude oil has fallen a further 37%.
The deal may have made sense at $70/bbl but with prices now at $37 Shell will find it is very hard to justify the price to its beleaguered shareholders.
To make matters worse there’s a £750m break clause if Shell walk away from the takeover.
Expect the unexpected. The markets took optimism from the unexpected Conservative majority in the May elections.
The FTSE 100 jumped 2.3% on the day of the result climbing back above the 7,000 barrier.
The top beneficiary was Centrica the owner of British Gas – which, like its ‘big six’ rivals, had faced the prospect of being placed under energy bill price freeze restrictions had Ed Miliband won the keys to Number 10.
Its shares closed over 8% higher on the day of the result.
Sterling jumped nearly 2% against the dollar notching up the year’s third biggest intra-day gain.
The ongoing Greek financial crisis prompted banks and the stock exchange to close with The Foreign office warning tourists to take enough cash to cover emergencies in case cash machines are emptied.
The Stock exchange remained closed until August. Upon reopening the index tanked 23%.
Greece’s largest bank, the National Bank of Greece has seen its share price sink 77% this year.
A hard landing in China looked ever more likely in July with the Shanghai Stock Exchange weathering its second-biggest ever one day fall, losing 8.5% of its value on Monday 27.
At one stage, the sell-off looked like it might eclipse the 8.8% decline witnessed in February 2007.
It wasn’t only oil experiencing a rout. Commodity prices across the board were suffering, with prices at 16 year lows.
Glencore, the world’s biggest miner and commodities trader announced in August that its profit had more than halved after weak demand from China had sent metals prices lower.
Barely a month later, a pessimistic note from investment bank Investecsent its shares 28% lower as it warned that the miner’s debt burden rendered it virtually worthless unless commodity prices recovered.
Despite Glencore’s 70% share price fall this year it surprisingly misses out on the unwanted-accolade of the FTSE 100’s worse performing stock. That prize goes to another miner, Anglo American, which has fallen 75%.
Briefly the world’s bestselling carmaker, Volkswagen fell victim to an emissions scandal which prompted the recall of nearly 1.2 million vehicles across the UK.
The scandal caused shares to fall more than 20% in a day and although they rallied towards the end of the year, they are still 27% lower in 2015.
Research in October from Harvard and MIT concluded up to 200 people could die 20 years early as a result of the scandal.
The Government signed a deal to build Britain’s first new nuclear plantin a generation at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Costing £14bn, the project will slash UK carbon emissions by nine million tonnes a year, create 25,000 construction jobs and 900 permanent positions once operations start.
The contract is due to run for 35 years. At full capacity, the two reactors could provide up to 7% of the country’s energy needs.
COP21 kicked off in Paris. By the end of the summit, 195 countries from around the world had signed a deal to keep global warming “well below” 2C and signalling the end to fossil fuels.
The US increased interest rates by 0.25% for the first time in nine years.
All eyes will be on the Bank of England in 2016 to see if they follow suit.
Many economists see a rate hike unlikely before the EU referendum which is expected in June or September.