The S&P 500 almost literally went nowhere in 2016. As late as December 30th, the index was posting a minuscule gain on the year, but losses on the last day of the year dragged it down to an annual decline of 0.7 percent.
It could have been worse. The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 2.2 percent on the year, and the Russell 2000, a small-cap benchmark, lost more than 5 percent. The Nasdaq, on the other hand, was much more successful, rising nearly 6 percent on the year.
At least the American markets weren't as much of a stomach-turner as Chinese stocks. The Shanghai Composite index finished 2016 up by 9.4 percent, but over the course of about two and a half months between June and August, it crashed to the tune of losing 43 percent of its value.