Can money trees in fact grow to heaven? It is certainly beginning to look that way when considering global stock market returns.

World stock markets again delivered good returns in US dollar for the quarter ended 30 June 2007. The best performance came from the Peru Composite Index with an eye-popping capital appreciation of 31.8%, followed by the Brazil Bovespa Index with 26.0% and the Philippines Index with 25.1%.

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Last month’s leader, the Shanghai Composite Index, was in fourth position with a gain of 21.9% – still comfortably among the front runners.

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China and Brazil are still the best performers of the BRIC countries. India improved strongly from twentieth position to sixth position with a gain of 21.2%, but Russia remained the third-worst performer with a loss of 2.3%.

The following five stock market indices were the only ones to register declines for the three-month period:

  • Morocco     -1.0%
  • Tokyo         -1.1%
  • Russia        -2.3%
  • Sri Lanka    -6.7%
  • Jordan        -7.8%

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    Pan-European stock markets (German DAX Index with +15.8%, French CAC 40 Index with +8.9% and the FTSE 100 with +4.1%) were a mixed basket, but the US stock markets in general (Nasdaq 100 Index with +9.2%, Dow Jones Industrial Index with +8.5% and the S&P 500 Index with +5.8%) were more consistent performers. However, the performance of the major Asian indices (Hang Seng Index with +10.0% and the Nikkei 225 Index with +0.2%) was characterized by little consistency.

    The following stock market rankings have improved considerably compared to the six-month rankings:

    Index

    Three-month ranking Six-month ranking
    Venezuela 9 46
    Colombia 11 29
    India 6 22
    Hungary 16 32
    Dow Jones Industrial 28 42

    The stock market rankings that have taken a turn for the worse compared to the six-month rankings are:

    Index

    Three-month ranking Six-month ranking
    Morocco 48 7
    Malaysia 29 10
    Copenhagen 40 26
    Turkey 22 8
    Czech Republic 42 31

    For some reason the following lyrics of Electric Light Orchestra’s classic, Living Thing, keep resounding in my head: “You took me, ooh, woah, higher and higher, baby. It’s a livin’ thing … “ The next line, just in case you have run out of analytical tools, is “It’s a terrible thing to lose … “

    Click the next link for the detailed performance figures:

    Global stock market price movements

    Personal trivia: Prague – a golden experience
    I have interrupted my Swiss sojourn for a few days of business in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic also known as the Golden City. Situated in the heart of Europe and regarded by many as the most beautiful city on the continent, Prague rates as one of my all-time favourite travel destinations.

    Prague has so many appealing factors, ranging from the Bohemian café society and its mouth-watering Plzensky Prazdroj beer to the rich historical heritage and fascinating architecture to live music everywhere one cares to listen.

    But above all, I have become very fond of the Czech people – a nation (at least the ones I have dealt with and befriended) filled with pride and big on delivery, almost as if they have a sense of urgency to make up for the lost years of communism.

    I have also come to understand the infatuation of young American guys with the natural beauty that abounds – and I am not referring to the historical heritage or the landscape…

    As far as investments go, the name of the game is still property. The Prague property market may be somewhat further along the development curve than most other parts of Central and Eastern Europe, but the right trends are in place for sustained longer-term growth. The positives include rising personal incomes, a growing property ownership culture, a good rental market (also spurred on by employees of multi-nationals, establishing businesses in the Czech Republic) and sophisticated mortgage finance options. On the negative side, prices are no longer at bargain-basement levels and one needs to be more selective than a few years ago. But the longer-term outlook remains solid, albeit perhaps interrupted by a short-term flattening out of prices.

    I will be heading back to Switzerland tomorrow for more yodelling, and, who knows, perhaps buying fractional ownership in an Alpine cow.

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