The FTSE 100 has suffered its biggest one-year fall since the financial crisis in 2008.
London’s leading stock index was 12.5% lower at the end of 2018 compared with the start of the year, wiping more than £240bn off the combined value of its constituent companies.
Wall Street also limped across the finish line of what has been its worst year in a decade, with markets battered by anxieties about a US-China trade war and global economic slowdown, as well as Brexit worries.
The FTSE 100 ended a shortened day of trading on New Year’s Eve at 6728. Little changed on the day, meaning it closed 960 points lower than its level at the start of the year.
It is nearly 1200 points lower than the FTSE’s record high achieved in May this year.
Trading across global markets has been particularly volatile in the run-up to Christmas – a time when investors are traditionally more accustomed to a “Santa rally” lifting values.
Instead, a cocktail of worries – many of them focused on Donald Trump’s confrontations with China over trade and with the US Federal Reserve over interest rates – have pulled shares down.
Signs of more festive sentiment flickered into life shortly after Christmas when New York’s Dow Jones enjoyed a record-breaking rally of more than 1000 points in one day and the FTSE 100 had its best session since April.
But it was not enough to gloss over a grim year for shares.
The annual fall for the FTSE 100 was the first decline over the course of the year since 2015 and the largest annual percentage decline since the financial crisis – when it lost a third of its value in 2008.
Sliding share values hit investments such as pension funds as well as trackers that follow the value of the FTSE 100.
Among individual stocks, British American Tobacco has been badly hit, losing 50% off its share price over 2018, after the US proposed a crackdown on menthol cigarette sales.
House builder Taylor Wimpey, down by about a third, is among companies in the sector hit by worries about the housing market – which have largely been blamed on Brexit uncertainty.