Investors have been bombarded with reasons to be pessimistic this year. The euro zone crisis, the U.S. fiscal cliff, fears of a China slowdown: all seem designed to hamper stock market performance.
Yet performance of stock markets around the world is now at its highest level for five years, led by fast-growing emerging markets, according to research from Lloyds.
In September 2012, 82 percent of 39 countries tracked by the research saw a year-over-year rise in equity prices, the highest proportion for five years and more than 10 times the proportion a year ago.
This is only based on returns between September 2012 over the previous year, so one-off factors could affect performance.
Thailand led the gainers, after a bad year in 2011, when floods ravaged Bangkok. It was followed by Denmark, up by 35 percent over the period, and the Philippines, which rose by 34 percent.
Slovakia's equity market recorded the biggest fall, of 15 percent, after fiscal tightening by the government. It was followed by China, down 12 percent from September 2011, and Spain, down 10 percent from the year before amid talk that it will become the next major euro zone economy to seek a bailout from international lenders.
"Much of this increase was from a relatively low base following the sharp falls recorded in 2011," Suren Thiru, economist at Lloyds TSB International, pointed out.
He warned that the euro zone debt crisis and the progress of the global economic recovery would affect the outlook for global equity prices in coming months.