Halfway into 2014, as trading desks across the world go quiet for the summer, it's time to take stock and take a look at what might lie ahead.
Despite geopolitical shocks from Ukraine and the Middle East, it has been a positive first half overall, with global stocks (as measured by the MSCI world equity index) on track for their fourth straight quarter of gains.
The promised IPO rebound has materialized, with global volume up 44 percent to $104.9 billion via 533 deals, according to Dealogic, but the mergers and acquisitions market hasn't quite bounced back on a similar scale.
Markets have been reassured that major central banks will continue to keep money pumping into the financial system – and interest rates at historic lows – but this may risk artificial prolonging of other problems.
"Investors have bid up financial assets, buoyed by expectations that global monetary policy will stay easy for a long time," analysts from Barclays argued in a research note.
In the U.S., "steady, but unexceptional, growth" is expected by economists at HSBC.
The second half is also likely to feature the first interest rate hike by a major Western central bank – probably the Bank of England in November, if current noises are accurate.