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Australia Has World’s Best-Performing Stock Market Since 1900

Australia has the world’s top-performing equity market over the past 120 years, thanks to its ability to largely evade the global financial crisis, according to a new study published by Credit Suisse Group AG.

Stocks Down Under have achieved an annualized real local-currency return of 6.8% per year since 1900, according to the broker’s Global Investment Returns Yearbook 2020. The report was produced in collaboration with the London Business School and Cambridge University.

Converted to U.S. dollars, Australia’s return trumps that of 22 other equity markets around the world for which the researchers compiled data. The U.S. ranked second, followed by South Africa and New Zealand. The countries studied made up 98% of the global equity market in 1900 and still represent over 91% today, the report said.

While Australia is often called the “lucky country” due to its abundant natural resources, its services-based economy combined with its strong banking and savings system helped make it mostly immune to the financial crisis, the report said. The researchers also said foreign investors have been attracted by the country’s rule of law, education system and established regulatory frameworks.

The Australian equity market has also held up well amid the recent coronavirus-fueled global downturn, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index little changed on the year, compared with a 4.5% drop in the MSCI All-Country World Index. Hopes for further cuts to already low interest rates helped propel the market to record-high levels last week.

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