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European shares end year 45 percent lower

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European shares end year 45 percent lower

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Trading in shares in Europe is over for the year with several of the region’s stock markets having registered their worst annual losses in history.

December was actually a positive month for most, but the pan-European FTSEurofirst index was down 45 percent for the year. Milan’s top shares almost halved in value, Paris was down 43 percent, Frankfurt 40 percent, Madrid 39 percent, Zurich 36 percent and London almost 32 percent – the biggest yearly fall for the FTSE 100 since its launch in 1984. Analysts said many investors are hoping for a better 2009 on the basis that stock markets recover in recessions. Over the year, the euro was down almost four percent against the dollar, its first annual drop since 2005. Sterling was 2008’s major currency loser. It almost reached parity with the euro and slid nearly 27 percent against the dollar.