2011 Business Year In Review: "Occupied" Wall Street Preoccupied With Euro Zone Debt
The stock market saw big swings in 2011 as investors reacted to news here and abroad, and NY1’s Annika Pergament looks back on the business stories that grabbed the attention of Wall Street.
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As the business world closes its books on 2011, Wall Street and Europe find themselves more intertwined.
The sovereign debt crisis in Euro Zone nations like Greece, Spain and Italy grabbed global attention. News of austerity plans, rescue packages and changes in leaders rattled the markets.
"I think the biggest story on Wall Street, from the equities side, was the situation in Europe," says SunriseCorp trader Ben Willis.
In the United States, markets were sent on edge after ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut the country’s sterling AAA credit rating in August.
From Silicon Valley, the death of Steve Jobs shook up the tech world and beyond. But investors showed confidence in the new leadership, with Apple stock rising roughly 20 percent year over year.
There were a lot of changes on Wall Street, inside and out, over the year. Occupy Wall Street started out with just a few dozen protesters in late September, but soon transformed, with sometimes thousands of activists taking to the Financial District.
But it was not such a great time for those who worked in finance. Several financial firms like Citigroup, Bank of America and HSBC announced layoffs in the thousands. All in all, roughly 200,000 job cuts were announced in that sector this year.
Some Dow components did well despite all the volatility. IBM, McDonalds and Pfizer were among the best performing stocks in the Dow 30, all posting double-digit percentage gains this year.
Other companies did not fare as well. Once a hot stock, shares of Netflix dropped more than 60 percent year over year. The company made many stumbles along the way like raising prices and splitting up its businesses, only to change its mind.
As Wall Street looks ahead to 2012, Willis hopes for more certainty in the markets.
"The markets can handle bad news or good news. But they can’t handle uncertainty. When you have uncertainty like we’ve had coming out of Europe, people back away from the markets," he says.