Dec 30 - Global stock markets are ending 2013 on record highs, even if bonds are suffering. But will the good times for stocks continue in to 2014? David Pollard reports.
Party time in Tokyo as the Nikkei ends the year on a six-year high. The index has moved up 57 per cent in the last twelve months - its biggest annual gain in over four decades. Many thank this man - prime minister Shinzo Abe - for his aggressive economic stimulus. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) JAPAN PRIME MINISTER, SHINZO ABE SAYING: "This year, the year of the snake, this means to start, to shed and begin anew. The previous year of the snake was in 2001, the year we began the 21st century. This year, the Tokyo Stock Exchange had a fresh renewal as well." Here at the Frankfurt stock exchange, a more sober appearance - but quiet satisfaction that it, too, is ending the year on a six-year high. Close Brothers trader Oliver Roth. SOUNDBITE (German) OLIVER ROTH FROM CLOSE BROTHERS SEYDLER BANK AG, SAYING: "The DAX celebrated its 25th birthday this year and it also almost gained 25 percent this year. This was clearly more than most people had expected including myself. The main reason for this was the high liquidity in the market.'' That liquidity is underpinned by the continuing easy money policies of the Federal Reserve and ECB. Even if the Fed's ever-so-gentle move to ease back or 'taper' its asset-buying programme is hitting bonds. Yields on benchmark ten-year US Treasuries are nudging two-year highs as prices slip. Tom Vosa is National Australia Bank's Head of European Markets. SOUNDBITE (English) NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK HEAD OF EUROPEAN MARKETS, TOM VOSA, SAYING: "We are looking at a normalisation of yields. We have further to go and I think next year will be another bad year for bond markets, but this after all is a long overdue correction from what happened in incredibly bullish markets since 2007.'' With that in mind, investors are asking themselves: should we still plough into stocks? Many think the good times will continue - at least for now. SOUNDBITE (German) OLIVER ROTH FROM CLOSE BROTHERS SEYDLER BANK AG, SAYING: "Those who are already in, should stay in, because it seems that this will continue for a little bit. Those who are not yet investing in shares shouldn't start to invest now because if we look one or two years on, we are at a very high level and the risk of it falling is 50 or 60 percent." If 2013 was the Snake, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Horoscopes say money decisions may pick up to gallop. But they also advise: hold on tight, and watch out for a fall.