The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) ended Thursday down 179 points, or 1 percent, closing out 2015 in the red after a choppy year for stocks. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) closed Thursday down 19 points, or 0.9 percent, ending the year down 2.2 percent.
The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) lost 58 points, or 1.2 percent, Thursday but managed a gain for the year, ending 2015 up 5.7 percent.
Stock indexes were battered in the second half of the year by economic contraction in China, Brazil and other developing economies, as well as plunging oil and commodity prices. The effects of a strengthening dollar weighed heavily on businesses dependent on exports and international trade.
Ordinary investors, however, may still have edged out slight gains in 2015. The S&P 500 total return index, which factors in reinvested dividends, ended the year up 1.7 percent.
Winners and Losers
Of course, the year wasn’t flat for everyone. Netflix (NFLX) stole the show as biggest winner in 2015, surging 140 percent for the year amid growth in its online viewership. But Netflix wasn’t the only tech giant to post impressive gains for the year. Google (GOOG), which reorganized itself as Alphabet Inc. in October, rose 45 percent, while Amazon added nearly 120 percent.
Perennial electronics favorite Apple (AAPL) stumbled in 2015 as weakness in the Chinese economy presaged cooling iPhone sales. Apple stock ended the year down 4.6 percent — the $700 billion company’s first negative calendar year since 2008.
The energy sector was the hardest-hit segment of the market, falling an industrywide 24 percent in 2015 as a global oil rout deepened throughout the year. Earlier this month, the cartel OPEC declined to support oil prices, ensuring that the glut would continue into 2016 — much to the chagrin of drillers and energy transporters hoping for respite.
Crude oil ended the year down more than 30 percent at $37.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Burrito chain Chipotle (CMG) was another big loser for the year, following a costly succession of foodborne illness outbreaks at locations across the country. Shares of Chipotle ended Thursday down a point to $481.
Stock markets are closed Friday for New Year’s Day.