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Global Stocks End the Week Lower

- By Nicholas Kitonyi

Last week saw several U.S. companies report fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results, sparking a major rally at the start. Most of those gains, however, were later to be wiped out as things cooled down toward the end of the week.

The S&P 500 Index added 35 basis points between Monday and Tuesday and remained relatively flat on Wednesday. On Thursday, it dropped before recouping some those losses late on Friday, ending the week relatively flat from Monday's opening.


The SPDR S&P 500 Exchange-Traded Fund Trust (SPY) gained only 33 cents during the week to close at $270.47 per share. While in Canada, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) remained mixed throughout the week and later retreated to end lower despite some major spikes. Nonetheless, some of the stocks, especially in the cannabis industry, enjoyed some gains led by Green Thumb Industries, which recently acquired Vegas-based Essence Cannabis for $290 million. Green Thumb rallied 7.5% on the final day of the week.

The U.K.

Overseas, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index (UKX) also experienced gains at the start of the week, adding 161 points or 2.30% on Tuesday from Monday's close. This year, the index is up 6% and is just under 1000 points below its all-time high. Last week's gains were driven by some health care and financial stocks that rallied significantly during the week.

Pharmaceuticals giants GlaxoSmithKline PLC ( GSK.L ) was up 5.90% and its counterpart, AstraZeneca Plc ( AZN.L ), gained 2.96%. In the financial services sector, 3i Group PLC ( III.L ) gained 6.50%. Smaller financial services companies in the FTSE 250 Index saw major gains with retail CFD broker Plus500 Ltd. ( PLUS.L ) gaining 4.30%.

Overall, the British stock market remains relatively choppy. After the gains early on, the FTSE 100 Index retreated to close 22 points below the previous week's close.

Asia

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index ended the week in red after dropping more than 400 points (about 2%). The index ended the week at 20,333.17, shedding 418 points. With most of the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2018 out of the way, global markets could be undergoing a correction following the recent earnings-driven rally.

On the other hand, with Chinese New Year celebrations, the markets largely remained closed during the week, with the Hong Kong market only open on Monday and Friday. The Hang Seng Index (HSI) dropped 281 points (about 1%) on Friday morning before regaining some of those losses to close the week down 43 points, relatively flat from the previous week's close.

In South Korea, the market was open on Thursday and Friday. The Kospi Index (KOSPI) dropped nearly 39 points (about 1.76%) to close the week at 2,177.

Looking ahead

Generally, the markets are reacting to the U.S. earnings season. In addition, there are fresh fears that the U.S.-China trade war may continue.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Brexit stalemate continues to haunt the market as the March 29 deadline approaches. The next few weeks will be interesting as British Prime Minister Theresa May and the House of Commons try to come up with a deal that will work for both the people of the U.K. and the European Union.

Conclusion

In summary, global stocks experienced mixed performances last week. The Chinese New Year celebrations will have had an impact, while other factors also affected global stocks. For the most part, the top indexes closed relatively flat from the previous week after shedding most of the gains realized at the start of the week.

Disclosure: I have no positions in the stocks mentioned in this article.

This article first appeared on GuruFocus .