World stock markets begin 1991 facing the threat of a war in the Persian Gulf, recessions or economic slowdowns around the world, and dismal earnings the same factors that drove stock markets down sharply in 1990. Yet many market watchers expect a better year than the one ending today.
In 1990, these pressures resulted in a worse year for stocks than even 1987, when stock markets crashed in October.
The Financial Times World index for 24 markets, excluding the United States, dropped 30.8 percent in local currency in 1990, compared with a 1.7 percent dip by the end of 1987.
For American investors, the sharp drop in the dollar cut the 1990 decline to 24.6 percent. But in 1987, the dollar's fall and a smaller decline in equities resulted in a 24.2 percent gain.
While stock markets are open today in the United States, Britain and Canada, most markets closed the year on Friday.
In the end, 1990 was a year of new highs and new lows for many stock markets.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index of leading stocks plunged 28 percent from a record high of 38,915.87 at the end of 1989 to 28,002.07 by April 2. After the Iraqi invasion it slumped to below 20,000 before closing Friday for the year at 23,848.71, down 38.7 percent for the year.