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The stock markets followed the positive economic trend at the beginning of 2012 and started out with rising share prices. In the course of the year, the ongoing European financial and debt crisis renewed investor uncertainty and so led to higher volatility on the capital markets. A major recovery began in September once the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve System had indicated their willingness to provide additional liquidity. But the ongoing debt problems of a number of southern European countries and initial fears of a recession pushed prices back down slightly towards the end of the year, a bit below the highs achieved earlier in the year. A year-end rally starting in December had many indices ultimately ending up close to their peak for the year.

The DAX stood at 5,898 at the beginning of the year. It reached its peak of 7,672 in December, mainly due to a boom in cyclical shares, and ended the year at 7,612, an increase of 29%.

The Euro Stoxx 50 gained 11% within the year. The European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index closed 2012 with a gain of 13%. The best performing sectors in this index were Automotive (31%), Insurance (31%), and Travel & Leisure (30%), while Utilities (-3%), Oil & Gas (-5%), and Telecommunication (-12%) were the weakest three performers. The health care sector gained 12% within the year. The leading U.S. indices also performed well: The S & P 500 closed 2012 with a gain of 12%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 6%.

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