US stock market isn't the only one racing ahead

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm •  Published: March 5, 2013
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Others think central banks will remain in crisis mode for a long time, given the amount of debt — both household and government — that needs to be paid back in coming years.

If the monetary largesse remains, stocks may continue to shine, analysts say, especially since the returns on bonds in the U.S., Germany and Japan are bordering on insignificant. Why invest in an asset that may deliver 2 percent at best?

As of Wednesday, here's how some indexes in Europe and Asia are performing:

— Germany's DAX is approaching its all-time high of 8,106 achieved in July 2007, just before the U.S. housing market started to unravel. Trading at around the 7,800 mark, it's up around 14 percent over the past year, even though Europe's largest economy contracted in the final quarter of 2012 from the previous quarter.

— Britain's FTSE 100 hit its highest midday level in five years Tuesday after the Dow broke its record. The benchmark rose to 6,437.34 before closing a few points lower. However, it's still short of the peak of 6,930 it hit in 2000 at the height of the dot-com bubble.

— Greece's main stock index more than doubled over the last few months to surpass the 1,000 mark, then dropped back slightly to around 970. Greece's continued use of the euro currency appears more secure following agreements to hand the country more bailout cash. However, its peak above 5,000 looks a distant prospect and highlights the country's fall over the past few years.

— Japan's Nikkei 225 hit its highest intraday level since September 2008 a day after the Dow surpassed its all-time record. Traders hope the weakening yen will improve the earnings prospects of its powerhouse exporters. A new government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made pulling Japan out of its two-decade stagnation its top priority. Still, any investor who put money into Japanese stocks 20 or so years ago is still ruing that decision. The Nikkei is around half where it was in the 1990s.

— Hong Kong's stock market — which lists Chinese behemoths like the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by market value, has posted respectable gains. But the Hang Seng index is nowhere near the milestone that the Dow has reached. It is some 9,000 points off its historical high of nearly 32,000, hit in late 2007.

— Most of the smaller indexes in Asia have pushed higher, too. Thailand's SET is up around 34 percent in the last 12 months. The PSE benchmark in the Philippines — where remittances from overseas workers and a burgeoning outsourcing industry have insulated the economy — has soared 35 percent in the past year.

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