Dow, S&P 500 end 2015 with losses for worst year since 2008

 A trader wears plastic glasses to celebrate the last trading day of 2015.
A trader wears plastic glasses to celebrate the last trading day of 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 racked up their worst annual performance in seven years after a selloff in the final Wall Street session of 2015 on Thursday.

The S&P 500 fell 0.9 per cent to 2,043.94, leaving the broad-based gauge of US stocks down 0.7 per cent for the year, its first loss since 2011.

The blue-chip Dow dropped 1 per cent in the session to 17,425.03, to take its annual loss to 2.2 per cent.

But the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index proved a bright spot, ending 2015 with a gain of 5.7 per cent despite dropping 1.2 per cent to 5,007.41 in the last day of trade.

Analysts said decline in Thursday’s session should be taken with a grain of salt due to light trading volume and the incentive to sell stocks at the end of the year to book losses for tax purposes.

But the closing of the books on the worst year for the Dow and S&P 500 since 2008, after both repeatedly punch through record highs during the year, left a sense of an end to the seven-year bull run since the financial crisis.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Global Asset Management, said he was “hopeful” about 2016, but listed a litany of possible problems, ranging from low commodity prices to still-high equity valuations and the Federal Reserve’s move to lift interest rates.

“There are risks out there and the problem is the market isn’t cheap, so it’s going to take bad news hard if we get it,” he said.