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2021 in review: chronicling the year’s biggest stories

January

Stock markets rise at the start of the year as the first COVID vaccinations are administered, with the S&P 500 hitting an all-time high of 3,871.

GameStop [GME] shares soar by almost 2,000% fuelled by users of the social media platform Reddit. Bitcoin hits a best-ever price, soaring above $40,000.

February

GameStop shares plunge as the meme-stock mania subsides.

Tesla [TSLA] makes a $1.5bn investment in bitcoin, and the currency hits the $50,000 mark for the first time ever this month. Ford [F] announces it will transition all of its passenger vehicles in Europe to electric over the next 15 years.

March

Deliveroos [ROO] much-hyped London IPO falters as it falls 26% on its first day of trading. Semiconductor shortages hit auto stocks including Tesla.

The Securities and Exchange Commission states that it is considering forcing foreign US-listed companies to hand over audit information or risk delisting after repeated non-compliance. It hits Chinese stocks such as Alibaba [BABA] and Tencent [HKEX:700].

April

The UK government orders a Competition and Markets Authority investigation into Nvidias [NVDA] $40bn takeover of microchip designer Arm Holdings. The S&P breaks 4,000 for the first time ever, buoyed by US Government stimulus and COVID recovery.

Chinas State Administration for Market Regulation warns 34 internet companies to take control of anti-competitive practices within a month. Companies including Baidu [BIDU] and Tencent were told in an ad-hoc meeting to heed Alibabas example”, following the $2.8bn fine levied against it earlier in the month.

May

Private equity firm The Carlyle Group [CG] to buy biotech group Vectura for £958m.

Warren Buffett confirms Greg Abel as his successor at Berkshire Hathaway [BRK/B] when the time comes for him to retire. Japanese investment giant SoftBank [9988.T] reports a record quarterly profit of 1.93trn yen ($17.7bn) for the quarter ended March 2021 and annual profits of $45.9bn, the most ever for a Japanese company.

Bitcoin prices retreat after Tesla, halts purchases of vehicles using the currency, following CEO Elon Musk’s concerns over the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining. Bitcoin also tumbled after Chinese officials announced the country had banned financial institutions and payment companies from processing cryptocurrency transactions.

The FTSE 100 was shaken during the month after news surfaced that UK inflation more than doubled to 1.5% in April off the back of rising petrol, gas and electricity costs. 

June

Exchange-traded products report that record net flows of $4.4bn took place in May. Payments provider Visa [V] buys Swedish open banking fintech Tink. 

Pharmaceutical giant GSK [GSK] announces a plan to split its consumer health business into a separate listing on the London Stock Exchange. Space exploration stock Virgin Galactic [SPCE] sees its share price skyrocket after announcing that it has been given full approval by the Federal Aviation Administration for its full commercial launch license.

July

The Chinese ride-hailing app Didi [DIDI] raises close to $4bn in its US listing, making it one of the biggest foreign debuts since Alibaba in 2014. Its price soon drops after regulators in China stop the app being downloaded, citing cybersecurity concerns. 

Chinese tech giant and TikTok creator ByteDance puts plans to list on hold indefinitely following recommendations from Chinese government regulators to focus on data security risks.

Jeff Bezos quits Amazon handing over control to new CEO Andy Jassy.

 

August

Chinese gaming group Tencent pledges to limit the time spent by minors on its gaming platform after a government crackdown.

SARK, a newly formed ETF designed to bet directly against Ark Investments flagship fund, the Ark Innovation ETF [ARKK], reflects the growing community of sceptics against Cathie Woods investment strategy in emerging themes like robotics and space travel. ARKK fell 8.2% in July.

Shares of Robinhood [HOOD] come under pressure after the US Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Gary Gensler told Barrons there was a possibility of banning payment for order flow” as part of the measures planned to regulate the trading market. Gensler also call cryptocurrency aWild West”. 

September

Bitcoin’s price crashes as El Salvador becomes the first country to make the cryptocurrency legal tender.

Toyota [TYT] sets out plans to spend $13.5bn on developing electric car batteries and manufacturing plants over the next decade. Air travel has a less positive month, with Boeing [BOE] predicting that passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Fears of a debt default send shares of Chinese real estate developer Evergrande [HKEX:3333] tumbling, along with others in the property development segment. Apples [AAPL] App Store is ruled as being monopolistic. It's reported the UKs consumer price index surges to 3.2% in the 12 months to August — its highest rate since 2012.

October

A former product manager at Facebook [FB] appeared on CBS and accused the social media company of choosing to maximise profits over curbing hate speech and misinformation. Data from the China Passenger Car Association indicates that Tesla sold a record number of China-made vehicles in September.

November

Musk sells $5bn of Tesla shares after consulting social media followers. Fellow tech guru Jack Dorsey steps down as chief executive of Twitter [TWTR] but stays in charge of payments group Square [SQ].

Conglomerate GE announced it will split into three separate publicly-traded companies covering healthcare, energy, and aviation, respectively.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission, as anticipated, rejects a proposal for VanEcks Bitcoin ETF, which was to be the first to directly hold the worlds largest cryptocurrency. 

Shares in pharma firms such as Moderna [MRNA] surge as the omicron COVID variant emerges.

Iconic retailer Marks & Spencer [MKS] posts its first annual loss in 94 years, as a result of the pandemic.

December

The Bank of England raises interest rates to 0.25% from record low of 0.1% to curb surging inflation. The Federal Reserve says it expects to raise rates three times next year.

HSBC [HSBA] is fined £64m by the Financial Conduct Authority for money laundering failures. The EU prepares to force gig economy companies to give workers extra rights no matter how their contracts are worded.

Five months after listing on US stock exchanges, Chinas ride hailing company Didi announces plans to exit the bourse.

Bloomberg research finds the global economy is growing at 0.7% in the quarter to 31 December, which is just half that of the preceding quarter. This is 0.3 percentage points lower than projections for November. Omicron is to blame.

Disclaimer Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

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