After finishing dead last in Asia the previous year, Shanghai stocks looked set to end the year as the world's top-performing major equity market. Ahead of the open Wednesday, the last trading day of the year, the Shanghai Composite Index was up just shy of 50% for 2014, with most of the gains coming in the past six weeks. Factors lifting the index included the launch of the Stock Connect scheme allowing non-Chinese retail investors to buy Shanghai shares for the first time, as well as some buying by Chinese pensions and other government interests, and a bit of catch-up after closing 2013 with a 6.8% annual loss. According to Reuters data, only the much smaller Argentinian Merval index was likely to have outperformed Shanghai, having gained about 57% as of Tuesday. Among other major East Asia indexes, Taipei's Taiex was up 7.6% for the year as of Wednesday, while Tokyo's Nikkei Average ended 2014 with a 7.1% gain, Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 6.3%, Sydney's S&P/ASX was up 1.3%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.8%, and Seoul's Kospi was down 4.8%. Further west, Mumbai's Sensex had risen 29.4% since last Jan. 1. By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 8.5% higher for the year as of Tuesday's close, while the S&P 500 was up 12.6%.
Copyright © 2014 MarketWatch, Inc.
Continue Reading Below