Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 3rd 2017 Contents A14 business
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Energy and banks led S&P rally
NEW YORK --- In 2016, the Standard &
Poor's 500 index jumped 9.5 per cent and
bounced back from a flat result the year
before, and energy companies and banks
made some of the largest gains as investors
bet on a stronger economy that will lead
to more lending and spending.
Healthcare companies slumped as drug
prices came under intense scrutiny.
Here's a look at how the 11 industry sectors
in the S&P 500 fared for the year:
ENERGY: up 23.7 per cent
At the beginning of the year it looked like
2016 would be another painful one for energy
companies. In February oil traded at US$26
a barrel, down from more than US$100 in
mid-2014. But over the next few months oil
prices rose gradually rose above US$50, which
reduced the scope of their losses. Late in the
year, OPEC and other oil producers agreed
to cut their production in 2017. The price of
US crude finished the year up 45 per cent. Oil
and gas company Oneok more than doubled in
value for the year while Chevron had its best
year since 1989.
FINANCIALS: up 20.1 per cent
Banks and other financial companies sank
early in 2016 as investors worried about slow-
ing global economic growth.
After that they struggled as the Federal Re-
serve continually held off on raising interest
rates. But the sector caught fire leading up to
the election and afterward, as investors felt
banks will be major beneficiaries of a Donald
Banks stand to benefit from increased gov-
ernment spending and borrowing connected to
greater spending on infrastructure, as well as
faster economic growth, looser regulations and
rising interest rates. Huge gains in the weeks
after the election took bank stocks to their
highest levels since 2008.
INDUSTRIALS: up 17.8 per cent
Companies that make construction equip-
ment, engines and aircraft also made large
gains as the US economy picked up steam.
Investors bet that the election of Trump, and
a Republican Congress that could approve his
spending proposals, will lead to more spending
on construction, manufacturing, and trans-
The sector, which includes companies like
Boeing and General Electric, reached all-time
highs at the end of the year. Caterpillar was the
best-performing Dow Jones industrial aver-
age component in 2016 while farm equipment
maker Deere rose to an all-time high.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: up 16.1 per cent
Phone company stocks surged early in 2016
as the market got off to a historically bad
start. Investors bought those stocks, which
are often compared to bonds because of their
large dividend yields and relative stability.
Low bond yields have helped make the small
sector attractive as well, drawing in investors
who sought income. Later the stocks gradually
lost steam as investors saw signs the economy
was picking up and hoped for faster growth.
Thanks to AT&T's biggest gain since 2006, the
stocks ultimately bounced back from two years
MATERIALS: up 14.1 per cent
Companies that make materials like pack-
aging, specialty chemicals and mine for metals
also rebounded, partly because precious met-
als prices bounced back in 2016 after sever-
al years of losses. Copper, which is linked to
expectations for economic growth because of
its uses in construction, climbed 17 per cent.
Higher metals prices led to big gains for gold
and copper producer Freeport-McMoran, gold
miner Newmont Mining and steel maker Nu-
cor. Building materials companies like Martin
Marietta also climbed.
UTILITIES: up 12.2 per cent
With government bond yields at their low-
est levels in many years and investors nervous
about the state of the economy, utility compa-
nies were in the unusual position of leading the
market in early 2016. Electric and gas utilities
were a safe harbour for worried investors. But
as confidence in the economy picked up, they
lost that leadership position. Overall they re-
covered the previous year's losses and rose a
bit more than the S&P 500.
TECHNOLOGY: up 12 per cent
Technology companies rose for the eighth
year in a row. The stocks surged this summer
as the US economy appeared to gain strength,
while critical overseas markets also looked
healthier. The technology sector didn't do as
well following the election, however, as in-
vestors wondered if Trump's trade and immi-
gration policies and his inflammatory rhetoric
would hurt their sales overseas. Graphics pro-
cessor company Nvidia more than tripled in
value and performed better than any other S&P
500 stock, while Hewlett-Packard's breakup
left two stocks that both did well. (AP)
Modi defends decision to demonetise
NEW DELHI---Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modi defended his government's decision to
demonetise the country's highest-value cur-
rency bills last month in an unusual message
to the nation.
Modi called India's massive demonetisation drive,
which withdrew 86 per cent of the country's cur-
rency bills from the system, "a historic purifica-
tion ritual" to cleanse the system of tax evasion
"This will play an important role in changing the
direction of the nation in times to come," he said in
the speech, which was televised live.
In an announcement that caught the country
by surprise on November 8, Modi said in a similar
address to the nation that India was withdrawing
500- and 1,000-rupee bills as legal tender in order
to crack down on the country's massive amounts
People watch Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation on television in Hyderabad, India.
of "black money," or untaxed wealth.
The deadline for exchanging or
depositing the old currency in bank
accounts passed Friday.
When the government announced
its demonetisation plans, it also an-
nounced a cap on the amount of mon-
ey people could withdraw from ATMs
and bank accounts, while the central
bank printed new currency bills to fill
the gap created by the erasure of a ma-
jority of the country's notes.
At that time, Modi said that by
December 30, normalcy was likely
However, on Friday, the Reserve
Bank of India announced that that it
would continue to control how much
money people could withdraw from
ATMs and banks for now.
According to a statement from the
central bank, the daily limit on ATM
withdrawals will go up to 4,500 rupees
(US$66) from 2,500 (US$37) rupees,
but the weekly cap on withdrawals
from bank accounts will remain at
24,000 rupees. It wasn't clear how
long the limits would be in place.
Since the announcement that the
old high-value bills were no longer
legal tender, banks and ATMs have
seen massive lines of people. It's not
unusual for ATMs to not be refilled
for days and for banks to run out of
cash within a few hours of opening.
A majority of Indians earn and
spend in cash, either due to habit or
because they're too poor to have ac-
cess to banks.
Experts say only about 40 per cent
of the country's ATMs are equipped to
start giving out the new 2,000- and
In his speech, Modi said that his
government hoped that banks would
get back to normal business as soon as
possible, but gave no deadline for that.
Modi lauded the nation for "bearing
with the inconveniences with extreme
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