The eight world indexes in my weekly review were certainly a mixed bag, with the Asia Pacific indexes showing a bit of manic-depressive disorder. Japan's Nikkei 225 was the hands-down top performer of the week, posting a 1.90% gain. At the other extreme, China's Shanghai Composite plummeted 4.68% following the week-long Spring Festival recess. Hong Kong's Hang Seng also had a bad week, down 2.82%. The three EU indexes joined the Nikkei with weekly gains. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAXK had healthy advances of 1.25% and 0.90%, respectively. The UK's FTSE 100 eked out a tiny 0.12% gain.
The Shanghai remains the only index on the watch list in bear territory -- the traditional designation for a 20% decline from an interim high. See the table inset (lower right) in the chart below. The index is down 33.34% from its interim high of August 2009. At the other end of the inset, the Nikkei 225 is now only 0.72% from its interim high set on Wednesday.
Here is a table highlighting the 2013 year-to-date gains, sorted in that order, along with the 2013 interim highs for the eight indexes. The outstanding advance of the Japan's Nikkei puts it solidly in the top spot. India's SENSEX is the sole index with a YTD loss, albeit a rather small one.
A Closer Look at the Last Four Weeks
The tables below provide a concise overview of performance comparisons over the past four weeks for these eight major indexes. I've also included the average for each week so that we can evaluate the performance of a specific index relative to the overall mean and better understand weekly volatility. The colors for each index name help us visualize the comparative performance over time.
The chart below illustrates the comparative performance of World Markets since March 9, 2009. The start date is arbitrary: The S&P 500, CAC 40 and BSE SENSEX hit their lows on March 9th, the Nikkei 225 on March 10th, the DAX on March 6th, the FTSE on March 3rd, the Shanghai Composite on November 4, 2008, and the Hang Seng even earlier on October 27, 2008. However, by aligning on the same day and measuring the percent change, we get a better sense of the relative performance than if we align the lows.
Here is the same chart starting from the turn of 21st century. The relative over-performance of the emerging markets (Shanghai, Mumbai SENSEX, Hang Seng) is readily apparent, especially the SENSEX, but the trend over the past two years has not been their friend (make that three years for the Shanghai).