Which market performed best in 2021?

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US markets were the leading global market in 2021, returning double what was achieved by the ASX 200.

From 1 January, 2021, to 31 December, 2021, the S&P 500 returned 36.6% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index returned 35.3%, according to FE Analytics.

This compared to returns of 17.2% by the ASX 200.

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This was the third year of double-digit gains for US markets and was helped by strong corporate profits thanks to high consumer spending. They were also helped by the reduction in uncertainty which accompanied the introduction of the pandemic in 2020.

Performance of S&P 500 and Nasdaq versus ASX 200 during 2021

On the other hand, Australia was hit by another lockdown in the middle of the year which hurt businesses and led to rent and loan deferrals. The best-performing ASX 200 stock was Pilbara Minerals which returned 267% over the period thanks to its division producing batteries for electric vehicles.

Performance of Pilbara Minerals versus ASX 200 during 2021

In Europe, the FTSE 100 returned 24.5%, the CAC returned 30% while the DAX 30 returned 13%.

In Asia, however, two markets lost money over the year with the Nikkei 225 losing 0.34% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng losing 6.9%. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite returned 14.1%.