Chinese stocks, dollar and debt the stars of 2014

Chinese and U.S. stocks headed the list of 2014 top performers while markets elsewhere ended the year on Wednesday on a cautionary note as worries about Greece's future served as an excuse to take profits.

The U.S. dollar lost a little of the recent gains that have made it the year's star major currency, but European bonds yields scored all-time lows following a shockingly sharp fall in Spanish inflation on Tuesday.

European stocks had a steady start as they wrapped up a year that has seen a 3.5 percent rise for the region as a whole but also sharp divergence, with near 30 percent losses for debt-strained Greece and Portugal.

The stand-out global equity performer has been China, where the CSI300 index looked set to end 2014 with gains of nearly 50 percent.

Almost all of China's rise came in the last couple of months, as hopes for more aggressive policy stimulus to counter its economic slowdown boosted banks and brokerages.

Featuring on Wednesday were hefty gains for China's biggest train makers, China CNR and CSR Corp , after they confirmed a $26 billion merger.

"China stocks have done really well this year and the dollar move has also been very interesting," said Alvin Tan, an FX strategist at Societe Generale in London. "It barely moved against the other major currencies in the first of the year and all the big gains came in the second half."

Trade elsewhere was thinned by holidays in Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines, while many markets in Europe were either shut or finishing early.

Europe's government bond markets all closed on Tuesday after another stellar year that has seen Italian and Spanish borrowing costs hit record lows and unglamorous but ultra-safe German debt enjoy its strongest year in six.

Among the scraps of news in Europe, two polls in Greece published late on Tuesday showed the anti-bailout party Syriza's lead over the ruling conservatives had narrowed.