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ASX 200 delivers total return of 17% for 2021

3 minute read

The communication services sector was the biggest outperformer of the past year.

Data from S&P Dow Jones Indices has shown that the S&P/ASX 200 ended 2021 with a total return of 17.23 per cent after a rise of 2.75 per cent in December.

Following falls in both October and November, the performance of the ASX 200 in December also brought the index into the positive for the quarter with a rise of 2.09 per cent.

Communication services was the best performing sector of 2021 with a total return of 32.60 per cent followed by financials with a 25.18 per cent return.

“All but one Australian sector contributed positively in 2021, but strong gains in the heavyweight financials sector contributed two-fifths of the S&P/ASX 200’s overall increase,” said S&P Dow Jones Indices global head of index investment strategy Tim Edwards.

“Information technology was the sectoral exception, pulled into the red by the travails of pay-later giant Afterpay, which dropped 30 per cent this year despite being the ongoing target of an acquisition.”

A fall of 2.20 per cent was recorded for the information technology sector in 2021 after declines of 6.11 per cent in Q4 and 5.32 per cent in December.

Consumer discretionary (24.32 per cent) and real estate (23.11 per cent) both outperformed the ASX 200 for 2021.

Underperforming sectors included energy (0.53 per cent), health care (9.34 per cent), utilities (9.77 per cent), consumer staples (10.17 per cent), industrials (13.86 per cent) and materials (13.86 per cent).

Total return for the S&P/ASX Emerging Companies Index was 43.75 per cent in 2021, more than double any of the other major ASX indices and the index also delivered the greatest returns during both December (4.33 per cent) and Q4 (8.26 per cent).

The next best performer was the S&P/ASX MidCap 50 which saw total returns of 4.20 per cent in December, 5.79 per cent in Q4 and 21.31 per cent in 2021 overall.

S&P Dow Jones Indices also noted 2021 had been a “turbulent year” for the local bond markets.

“Australian 10-year benchmark yields began the year at just below 1 per cent, rose to 1.8 per cent in February, fell back near to 1 per cent in August, then spiked again to 2 per cent by late October, before declining once more to finish the year at 1.7 per cent,” said Mr Edwards.

The broad-based S&P/ASX Fixed Interest Index fell 3.16 per cent in 2021, the first annual fall recorded by S&P Dow Jones Indices.