Those looking to maximise returns in the first half of the year should have parked their money in Eastern European equity markets such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, according to data from S&P's.
S&P's research shows these two markets proved themselves the most capable of shrugging off a difficult start to 2011: the Hungarian market rose by 20.6% from 1 January to 30 June, while the Czech Republic enjoyed a 15.1% gain.
Of the 45 countries assessed by S&P, the next best performers were even closer to the epicentre of the European sovereign debt crisis. The French equity market rose by 14%, the Spanish equity market by 12.3%, and Ireland was up by 11.8%.
A gain of 4.3% for developed equity markets year-to-date versus a 2.2% fall for emerging equity markets backs up those who warned of a switch in sentiment at the end of 2010.
BRIC nations in particular were under the cosh from the start, with India down 9.3%, and Brazil seeing a 3.2% drop. Even China, the economic powerhouse of the world, has seen its equity market fall 0.8%, with only Russian shares bucking the trend after rising 4.9%.
Of the major developed markets, the US saw growth of 5.4% in the first six months of the year, with 4% growth in the UK, but both markets lagged peers such as Germany (11.7%), Italy (7.5%), and Belgium (6.7%). The impact of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami resulted in a 5% market drop in Japan over the first six months of the year.
The worst performing market of the year, Peru, has seen its market slide by 25.4%, with an 11.5% drop in June alone putting its performance just below that of Egypt, which has seen a 24.6% drop year-to-date following political upheaval.
Those who sold in May and went away were rewarded with a June in which almost every equity market struggled. Developed markets saw a collective 1.8% fall, while emerging markets recorded a 2.1% drop on the month.
Just ten out of 45 markets recorded positive figures on the month, led by Germany and Japan (both with growth of 1.8%), with US and UK markets shedding 1.9% and 3.2% respectively.
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