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Just about anyone who had money in the market is saying, "Thank you, 2016!"
The vast majority of investors -- 77% -- made money this year, according to data shared first with CNNMoney by Openfolio, an app that lets people see how their returns stack up to other investors'. Women outperformed men for the third year in a row, Openfolio found.
It's a big turnaround from last year when most people, men and women alike, LOST money.
"Rising investor optimism and the stock market reaching all-time highs is great news to end the year on," says Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
The average investor made just over 5% in 2016, according to Openfolio.
That may not sound like a lot given that the Dow is up a whopping 13.4%, its biggest gain since 2013, but most investors don't put all their money into U.S. stocks. They diversify by investing in bonds, Europe, Japan, emerging markets and commodities like gold and oil. In fact, Russia turned out to be one of the top-performing stock markets of 2016.
"We're telling investors to stick to what you've got. Stay diversified. This is NOT the environment to take more risk in," says investment strategist Kate Warne of Edward Jones.
Stocks and funds that soared
Anyone disappointed with only a 5% gain should take a look at the savings in their bank account. Savers are still barely earning above 0% interest. Putting money in the market was the more profitable move.
Openfolio found that people who made a lot of money in the markets this year invested in hot tech stocks like Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Tesla (TSLA) and financial stocks, which made a huge upswing after Donald Trump won the election.
Apple is by far the most popular stock held by average investors. It is up more than 10% this year on optimism about better iPhone sales (especially after the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 disaster) and new products in the works.
Other popular stocks this year were Facebook (also up 10%), Bank of America (BAC) (up 31%), Goldman Sachs (GS)(up 33%), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)(up 300%), Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) (up 11%) and Netflix (NFLX, Tech30) (up 8%).
What's next for 2017?
In addition to individual stocks, investors who are ending the year smiling had money in low-cost index funds (Warren Buffett's recommended investment vehicle for regular folks) such as Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) (up 9.3%) and Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) (up 10.6%).
People who lost money tended to be holding some popular stocks that tanked this year, including Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) (down 30%), GoPro (GPRO, Tech30) (down 52%), FitBit (FIT) (down 75%) and Under Armour (UA) (down 30%).
So where's the market headed for 2017? The Wall Street "experts" still predict it will go higher, though for a smaller gain than 2016.
"The market may have gotten ahead of itself. It's too soon to know what specific policies president-elect Trump will pursue and which ones he will be able to implement," says Seth Masters, chief investment officer at AB Bernstein.
The general consensus is to buckle up and expect another wild ride. But remember: The U.S. stock market has always made money for investors who stay in for the long haul.
South Korean special prosecutors have arrested a former health and welfare minister as part of an investigation into an influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.
A team of investigators led by an independent counsel on Saturday arrested Moon Hyung-pyo on suspicion of abuse of power. It's the first arrest by the special investigation team.
The investigators suspect Moon pressured the government-affiliated National Pension Service to support a merger last year between Samsung Group companies.
The Service is a major shareholder in one of the firms.
The investigators suspect Samsung sought cooperation for the merger from the presidential office and, in return, made huge donations to funds with links to Park's long-time friend Choi Soon-sil. They suspect donations also went to a company set up in Germany by Choi and her daughter.
The investigators are looking into the possibility of charging Park with illegally soliciting benefits for a third party.
While the price of futures trading in China and Singapore were swinging wildly in recent weeks, the benchmark for the seaborne market underwent a more measured correction after spending much of November above $300.
But now it seems the correction is turning into a rout and the multi-year high of $308.80 for PHCC (Australia free-on-board premium hard coking coal tracked by the Steel Index) may have been the peak.
On Friday the price dropped 5.1% to $226 0 a tonne, the lowest since October 13 and one of the biggest declines on record. In 2011 floods in key export region in Queensland saw the coking coal price touch an all-time high $335 a tonne.
Still, the steelmaking raw material is up 178% in value in 2016 and quarterly contract negotiations between producers and steelmakers could turn out to be the best indicator of where coking coal is heading.
In a recent report TSI said the the low volatility seen in the spot market (the price hovered at its high for nearly three weeks) was a sign that going into quarterly negotiations Japanese steel mills were "wary of making panic buys during this period in order to avoid pushing the indices higher".
There was a more than $100 differential between the spot price average and the fourth quarter contract benchmark. For Q1 contracts, that gap would've all but closed.
Social media firm Snap Inc may be the highest profile tech IPO planned for 2017, with the potential to raise billions.
But more than a dozen expected stock offerings of relatively obscure software firms targeting business customers - little-known names such as Apttus, Tintri and Okta - could be just as important in thawing a long-frozen IPO market, according to investment bankers and advisers who work on IPOs.
Such firms are a "leading indicator" of broader investor demand for market debuts, said Justin Smolkin, head of Americas technology equity capital markets at UBS Group AG (UBSG.S).
"They tend to be viewed as cream of the crop, and where investors make the most money," he said.
Such enterprise software companies generally sell their services through subscriptions that produce reliable revenue streams. They aim to sign contracts lasting several years, giving investors more predictable returns than many Internet or consumer-oriented companies that depend on advertising or high volumes of individual transactions.
The firms provide a range of back-of-the-house services, such as automating business processes, security, accounting, training software and expense management.
Although such companies have moderate valuations, between about $500 million and $4 billion, the sector accounts for most of the tech IPO market, said Will Connolly, Goldman Sachs Group Inc's (GS.N) head of U.S. technology equity capital markets.
"Most of the technology IPO activity is actually not big, large-cap companies going public," Connolly said. "It's small and midcap growth companies going public that are innovators in their own markets and are helping drive the next generation of technology."
Reuters has identified more than a dozen U.S. enterprise software companies that are making preparations for a 2017 IPO including Avalara, MuleSoft, ForeScout Technologies Inc, AppDynamics and Yext. [L1N1EO00X]
In 2016, only six software companies went public, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Greg Becker, chief executive of Silicon Valley Bank, a lender to venture capital-backed companies, predicted that between 30 to 45 venture capital-backed technology companies could go public in 2017, compared to 15 in 2016.
These companies could also be aiming to get ahead of tech giants Airbnb Inc and Uber Technologies Inc, whose long-anticipated IPOs would require ample investor dollars and attention.
If the enterprise software firms' IPOs succeed, it could offer a boost to early-stage investors who provided key funding in the hopes of profiting by selling shares down the line. Only 20 technology companies went public in 2016, less than any year since 2008, according to Thomson Reuters data.
"It will be important for everyone that these deals work well in the market to create positive momentum for the year," said Anthony Kontoleon, global head of syndicate in the equity capital markets group of Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S).
If technology IPOs don’t take off in 2017, some venture capital fund managers could struggle to keep their investors happy. Startups that have attracted and retained talented employees with the promise of a lucrative IPO could also suffer.
The handful of technology companies that managed to go public near the end of 2016 have shown strong stock performances. Twilio Inc (TWLO.N), Coupa Software Inc (COUP.O), Nutanix Inc (NTNX.O) and Blackline Inc (BL.O) are now trading above their offer prices, boosting the confidence of their private peers that there is pent-up demand for such IPOs.
The recent stock market rally and companies beginning to accept a more modest pricing of offerings for IPOs has more tech companies ready to test the waters. Many had put IPO plans on hold in 2016 because they did not want to go public at lower valuations than the private fundraising rounds preceding them.
Enterprise software companies recognize that an IPO could be a major marketing event that gives them clout with potential customers that are publicly traded companies themselves - and conduct extensive due diligence before choosing a software vendor.
"The greatest benefit of an IPO is the transparency it creates. It comes with a much greater sense of legitimacy," said Rob Bernshteyn, chief executive of Coupa Software (COUP.O), a spend management tech company that went public in October.
“Customers want to know you're going to be around for a long time,” Pandey said.
Similar firms now looking to go public realize they have a marketing challenge ahead as they seek to capture investor interest before their market debuts. With names that trip up a spell checker and arcane business-model descriptions, they need to educate investors on their niche strategies and to start those efforts long before the typical two-week investor road shows that precede IPOs.
Apttus, for example, helps salespeople give a price quote quickly when trying to close a complicated deal that includes different products.
The company has already briefed many potential IPO investors in earlier funding rounds, said chief executive officer Kirk Krappe.
"Those investor meetings, and our relationship with Morgan Stanley (MS.N), have helped put us on the map," Krappe said.
(This version of the story has been refiled to add dropped word in paragraph 20)
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Heather Somerville in San Francisco and Lauren Hirsch in New York; additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Brian Thevenot)...
Congrats Americans! Your stock markets rallied to record levels this year.
The Dow Jones industrial average was a standout performer, shooting up 14% and approaching the 20,000 point level right at the end of 2016.
But you're not the only ones reveling in sweet stock market gains.
Here's an overview of some of the best performing global markets of the year:
Russia: Up 50%
Russia's RTS index has rallied by 50% since the start of the year and the country's other main index -- Micex -- has shot up by 26%.
Global investors rushed into Russia following the U.S. election because they expect President-elect Donald Trump to help thaw frosty relations between the two nations.
Russia is also heavily reliant on oil revenue, and it's benefited from the recent surge in oil prices.
"The bounce in the oil price has supported the Russian economy and saved it from disaster," said Naeem Aslam, chief analyst at Think Markets in London.
Argentina: Up 45%
Argentina's Merval index surged 45% this year and hit a record high in October on the back of major political shifts in the country and an 18% crash in the currency.
The election of President Mauricio Macri in late 2015 was a turning point for Argentina. Investors hope he'll revive the country's stagnant economy after the previous government left the nation's finances in tatters.
His government lifted currency controls, ended a 15-year battle with U.S. hedge funds and brought Argentina back to international bond markets for the first time since 2001.
Brazil: Up 39%
Brazil's Bovespa index hit a low in January that hadn't been seen since the 2008 global financial crisis. But then investor sentiment turned around and the market caught fire.
"Brazil's markets were at remarkably low valuations at that point [because] of the emerging Petrobras scandal," noted Tim Edwards, a senior director at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "A lack of descent into anarchy as well as rising commodity prices ... saw both [the] currency and stock market recover."
Brazil's main exports -- iron ore, oil and soy beans -- also saw major price increases over the course of the year.
Canada: Up 18%
Like many global stock markets, the TSX Composite index in Toronto rallied from a January low and benefited from the so-called Trump bump.
Canadian equity strategist Matthew Barasch from RBC Dominion Securities said in November that "the sum total of President-elect Trump's policy proposals would be positive for Canada and Canadian stocks, at least for a time."
He predicted that Trump's pro-oil policies would be a major boost for the energy exporter.
Norway: Up 18%
Oslo's All-Share index has been on a steady climb since the 2008 financial crisis, though it experienced a major pullback in early 2016 as oil prices crashed.
Norway's economy and markets are heavily reliant on oil, so the fact that crude prices have more than doubled from their February lows has helped energy stocks surge.
Specifically, Norway's biggest publicly traded company -- Statoil (STO) -- saw shares increase 29% this year. A smaller peer in the sector -- Aker BP -- saw shares soar by about 185%.
Indonesia: Up 15%
Indonesia's stock market posted a lot of bumps and jumps in 2016 but ultimately closed with a 15% gain.
Indonesia's largest publicly traded firms saw their shares rise this year, with most posting double-digit percentage increases.
The country's growing economy is powered predominantly by consumer spending, which means it's relatively insulated from a further slowdown in global trade.
The International Monetary Fund predicts economic growth of 5.3% next year, even faster than 2016.
U.K.: Up 14%
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index defied expectations and hit an all time high this year after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
The vote for Brexit caused the currency to drop to a 31-year low against the U.S. dollar, which provided a "stimulus boost" for the stock market, said Aslam from Think Markets.
The Bank of England's move to support the economy, combined with better-than-expected economic data, has also helped the stock market, said Aslam.
"A combination of these elements kept investors interested, hence we have seen such a stellar rally," he said.
The biggest losers
While most global stock markets rallied, a handful closed the year with deep losses: Italy and China were the biggest losers by far.
Italy's main index -- the FTSE MIB -- dropped 11% as investors worried about the troubled banking sector. Shares in all the major banks dropped sharply and Monte dei Paschi was forced to seek a bailout after its shares fell by 88%.
Chinese stock markets also closed the year with double-digit losses following a gut-wrenching fall in early 2016 when key indexes lost between 25% to 30% of their value in a matter of weeks.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite closed the year with a 12% loss. The Shenzhen market, which is traditionally more volatile, closed 15% down.
The head of the Japanese advertising giant Dentsu has resigned after the suicide of a junior employee was linked to a company culture that required staffers to work huge amounts of overtime.
The company confirmed Thursday that its president and CEO, Tadashi Ishii, would step down after its January board meeting.
Dentsu, which employs 47,000 people and operates in 140 countries, has been in the spotlight following the suicide of an employee on Christmas Day in 2015.
Japanese regulators have found that the woman, Matsuri Takahashi, had been forced to work excessively long hours. The punishing workload resulted in her suicide, they ruled.
Takahashi had clocked about 105 hours of overtime in the month leading up to her death, authorities found.
japan matsuri takahashi
The parents of Matsuri Takahashi, whose suicide was attributed to overwork, spoke at a news conference in October.
Pity Japan's salaryman: Inside a brutal 80-hour workweek
Ishii's resignation comes after investigators raided Dentsu's offices. Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has referred the case to prosecutors.
"We deeply regret failing to prevent the overwork of our new recruit," Ishii said at a press conference. "I offer a sincere apology to the bereaved family and everyone in society."
Japan is known for the brutal work hours demanded of its "salarymen," or office workers. Considered by many to be the backbone of Japan's economy, these employees are expected to always put the company first. Working days are often followed by marathon drinking sessions with colleagues and clients.
Excessive hours are such a big problem that there's even a Japanese word for death by overwork: karoshi.
Relief could be on the way for some workers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing labor reforms that would curtail the burden placed on employees.
--Emiko Jozuka and Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.
CNN)A huge open-pit coal mine has collapsed in eastern India, trapping at least 30 people and killing at least seven, police officials say.
Hari Lal Chouhan, Superintendent of Police in Godda, where the mine is located, said seven bodies have been pulled out of the debris so far. The exact number of those feared trapped is unknown.
He added that as many as 20 vehicles have been buried in the landslide.
The cause of the landslide is still being investigated.
Catastrophe struck the vast mine Thursday evening local time, but rescue teams were unable to start their operation straight away due to a lack of technology, according to police officials.
Mining operations were reportedly taking place 200 feet beneath the ground.
Mr. Chouhan confirmed that a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team were now traveling to the site to help dig through the mud.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded on social media.
"Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside," he said on Twitter.
Minister Piyush Goyal said an inquiry was underway, according to CNN affiliate News18. Goyal is India's Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines.
The mine is in Jharkhand, one of the major coal-producing states in India, and run by state-owned Eastern Coalfields Limited.
India is one of the world's top three coal consumers and is expected to surpass the United States in terms of coal consumption by 2030.
People in India have until the end of Friday to deposit discontinued notes in bank and post office accounts, or risk their money becoming worthless.
Early last month the government scrapped the 500 and 1000 rupee notes to crack down on undeclared money and fake cash.
The move divided opinion, especially over how the ban was implemented.
Deadlines for spending the notes or swapping them for new currency have already passed.
Some people, including those of Indian origin living abroad, will be able to exchange the notes in branches of India's central bank until 31 March 2017 - but the process will be more complicated than going to a regular bank.
Parliament is preparing laws that will make it a criminal offence to hold the old notes from 1 April 2017 onwards.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the notes were no longer legal tender on 8 November, sparking panic.
Together the two notes represented 86% of the currency in circulation and there have been chaotic scenes in India ever since, with people having to spend hours queuing outside banks and cash machines which have been running out of money.
ATM queues and cash withdrawal limits mean getting currency can still be tricky, and there have been several changes of the rules around how much money people can access or deposit.
The government hopes the measures will encourage more people to have bank accounts and move towards a society less reliant on cash.
But there are concerns that many poorer people and those in rural areas have yet to get bank accounts.
Local firms which allow people to make digital payments both online and in shops have reported a surge in transactions as people look for cashless alternatives.
The Chinese government plans to spend half a trillion dollars over the next three years on developing the country’s high-speed rail network. The move is part of a five-year plan aimed at shoring up China’s economic growth.
Beijing wants to extend the country's high-speed rail network to more than 30,000 kilometers. That means adding 11,000 kilometers of track for high-speed trains. China's high-speed railway currently makes up 19,000 kilometers.
The network will connect more than 80 percent of China's major cities, according to Vice Transport Minister Yang Yudong.
“We believe these railway lines will break even over time as the flow of people and goods experience fast growth,” he said, adding the government will invite private investment to participate in funding intercity and regional rail lines.
The program includes the construction of integrated transport hubs, renovation of expressways and faster construction of railways to serve less-developed regions in central and western China. The urban rail transit system will be extended by 3,000 kilometers.
On Wednesday, China opened the longest bullet train line linking the country’s east and west. The new 2,264-kilometer line spans five provinces, cutting travel time to 11 hours from 34 hours. It allows trains to travel at speeds up to 330 kilometers per hour.
Over the last two years, Chinese officials ramped up spending on the construction of highways and other public works.
They want to shift to a more sustainable model of growth and restructure the slowing economy toward consumption and services.
The world’s second-largest economy is expected to meet its growth targets of 6.5 to 7 percent this year. Statistics showed China’s industrial development, consumption, and investment maintained stable growth in October-November, with a rapid rise in the service industry.
Despite experts’ concerns, Chinese officials are confident in the country’s economy. President Xi Jinping said China will achieve its major economic targets this year and the positive trends will continue into 2017.
Precious metals miners sent the FTSE 100 index of leading shares to a fresh high on Thursday, powered by a rise in gold prices.
In a continuation of December's Santa rally, blue chip stocks rose by 14.18 points to close at a record 7,120.26.
Randgold Resources and Fresnillo led the FTSE 100 climbers for a second day, each rising by more than 4%.
Stocks were lifted by gold prices which grew 1.5% to $1,158.1 an ounce.
Investors boosted gold as the yield on 10-year US bonds fell while the dollar fell to a 15-day low against the yen. Sterling rose against the dollar at $1.2250.
Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, said: "The dollar fall was mostly due to renewed doubts about the US recovery after pending home sales dropped in November."
Recent data revealed that US pending home sales fell by 2.5% in November, compared to economists' expectations of a 0.5% rise.
Ashtead Group was the day's biggest faller in London, down 2.3%.
Industrial equipment hire company Ashtead is traditionally a strong performer in December, according to the Harriman Stock Market Almanac, and over the month its share price is still up by 4%.
Smiths Group, another industrial stock, was also one of the biggest fallers, losing 1.67%.