Shares and Bonds
Volkswagen AG’s ordinary and preferred shares significantly underperformed the market as a whole in 2015 in a volatile market environment. The main cause of this development was the emissions issue.
Prices on the international equity markets experienced volatility in the reporting period. The DAX rose moderately overall. Capital market participants were unsettled in particular by weakened economic growth in China.
The announcement by the European Central Bank (ECB) at the beginning of the first quarter of 2015 of its intention to buy sovereign bonds, together with falling oil prices, resulted in significant share price gains. The election result in Greece caused only short-term price falls. Positive economic data from the eurozone, hopes of an agreement between the eurozone countries and the Greek government, and some easing of the situation in Ukraine led to share prices rising further in February. Buoyed up by positive signals from the US labor market, good economic data from Germany and the ECB’s bond purchases, the markets rose further at the beginning of March. Towards the end of the first quarter, share prices declined slightly as expectations of a more restrictive monetary policy from the US Federal Reserve, among other things, unsettled capital market participants.
In the second quarter of 2015, the deteriorating situation in Greece and concerns about its effect on the European economy were the main triggers for falling prices. Healthy corporate results and expectations that the ECB would continue its bond-buying program and the US Federal Reserve its loose monetary policy brought about a temporary recovery in April, propelling the DAX to a new all-time high of 12,375 points. The DAX moved sideways amid significant price swings as the second quarter progressed. Investors’ hopes of a more expansionary monetary policy by the Chinese central bank and healthy labor market data from the USA supported prices, while concerns over the situation in Greece led to uncertainty. Prices declined towards the end of the second quarter amid volatility brought about by increasing fears of sovereign insolvency in Greece and growing uncertainty about whether it would remain in the eurozone.
In the third quarter, the agreement on a further rescue package for Greece and the resulting prevention of sovereign insolvency shored up prices in an environment dominated by considerable price falls on the Chinese stock markets. As the third quarter progressed, uncertainty regarding the slower growth of the Chinese economy notably contributed to a decline in prices. Prices stabilized temporarily towards the end of the third quarter, based on hopes of a key interest rate cut by China’s central bank and positive macro data from Europe, before declining once again at the end of September because of concerns regarding the slight slowdown in global economic growth.
Following the price falls towards the end of the third quarter, hopes that the ECB would expand its bond-buying program and the Chinese central bank would lower key interest rates initially drove prices higher in the last quarter. In the last few trading weeks of 2015, however, stock prices gave up some of their gains as negative economic data from China and the decline in the oil price unsettled capital market participants. The US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike towards the end of the fourth quarter met with a positive response on the European stock exchanges.
At the end of 2015, the DAX had reached 10,743 points, up 9.6% on the previous year’s figure. The EURO STOXX Automobiles & Parts closed the year at 542 points, 13.3% higher than on the last day of trading in 2014.