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World stock markets enjoy vintage 2013, seen gaining more in 2014

Dec 31 2013, 16:50 IST
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Employees of the Korea Exchange pose in front of the final stock price index during closing event of the 2013 stock market at the KRX in Seoul. Reuters Employees of the Korea Exchange pose in front of the final stock price index during closing event of the 2013 stock market at the KRX in Seoul. Reuters
SummaryWorld stock markets were ending 2013 close to six-year peaks on Tuesday.

World stock markets were ending 2013 close to six-year peaks on Tuesday and benchmark bond yields were poised for their first annual rise since 2009 as investors celebrated a pick-up in global growth with expectations of more to come.

Thanks to ultra-easy monetary policies and an improving economic outlook, equities have enjoyed a vintage year in 2013. Wall Street was on track for its best year since 1997 with a 29 percent gain, while Japan's Nikkei ended up 56.7 percent and European shares gained 16 percent.

MSCI's all-country world equity index was flat at 407.42 points on Tuesday, having hit its highest since late 2007 at 407.65 on Monday.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.13 percent at 1,313.52 points, on course for its best year since 2009.

Assets favoured by investors in economic downturns took a beating in 2013, with top-rated U.S. and German bond yields trading near the highest in around two years and gold limping towards its worst annual performance in three decades.

With bets that the economic recovery will continue even as the U.S. central bank steadily trims its bond-buying stimulus and that the euro zone will take more steps towards overcoming its debt crisis, investors look for more of the same in 2014.

"There is almost a complacency about next year and how well it could go," said Hans Peterson, head of asset allocation at SEB investment management. "There is still abundant liquidity even if the Fed started to taper and I think that is still the main theme ... Everything looks nice and easy right now."

Reuters polls show European stocks are expected to hit new highs in 2014, while Chinese, U.S. and other major stock markets are also seen posting solid gains.

Gold is expected to remain depressed, while benchmark bond yields are seen rising only slightly, despite investors' preference for riskier assets, the polls show.

Analysts do not foresee a sharp bond sell-off because inflation in major economies is expected to remain stubbornly low, while the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve have pledged to keep interest rates low for a prolonged period.

While staying overweight in equities, Didier Duret, chief investment officer at ABN AMRO private banking, said 2014 "will be a good opportunity to ... buy some good quality bonds as yields pick up above 3 percent in the U.S. and above 2 percent in Germany."

The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note, which

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