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17 biggest business stories of 2016

From negative rates, to Pokemon Go, to Brexit and Trump, 2016 was a year of big surprises and big comebacks.

The year in the markets

S&P 500 in 2016

Markets got off to a rocky start as oil prices crashed and China’s yuan tumbled. The S&P hit its low on February 11, the same day oil prices hit their bottom at $26 per barrel.

A worker walks at Nahr Bin Umar oil field, north of Basra

But it’s also the year of big comebacks. Oil and markets quickly rebounded, climbing in lockstep.

By June, the Brexit long-shot was becoming a viable reality. The UK’s surprise vote to leave the European Union sent the pound tumbling over 20%. The US wasn’t immune as the S&P fell 6% and the dollar surged. 

Brexit supporters outside of Parliament in London, England

But in no time, stocks were hitting record highs. Dow 19,000 was almost in sight. On August 11, we hit the trifecta—The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq reached new closing highs, something the markets hadn’t done since 1999.

Traders on the floor of the NYSE

A brief wave of central bank uncertainty roiled markets in September. Stocks dropped 3% in a matter of days, in part because the ECB hinted of a taper, while the Fed feigned a rate hike.

But the biggest market moves of the year came during the election.

Trump rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan

In the weeks leading up to Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, stocks lost ground. And as a Trump victory became priced in the night-of, Dow futures plummeted over 800 points. Optimism prevailed the next day as the index rebounded a whopping 1100 points.

S&P 500 ETF (SPY) performance around the elections

And finally, in December, after months of bullish economic data, Janet Yellen & Company got around to raising rates, by another quarter of one percent.

Janet Yellen

Big year for tech

2016 was a banner year for tech, but not without controversy:

Apple fought the FBI over unlocking iPhones. 

Tesla’s Model 3 debuted and received nearly half-a-million pre-orders, as Elon Musk battled suppliers (He also fought and won a merger with sister company Solar City amidst a shareholder revolt).

Tesla model 3 debut

Over the summer, Pokémon Go brought back augmented reality, leading Nintendo stock to a new five-year high and leading kids into … well, literally … walls.

Nintendo stock (NTDOY) before and after Pokemon Go release

And, after long last, by November, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, secretly filed its IPO plans.

Snapchat’s offices

Banner year for M&A

It was also a blockbuster year for mergers, with over $1.7 trillion in dealmaking: Microsoft and LinkedIn, Marriott and Starwood, Verizon and Yahoo (our parent company), AT&T and Time Warner, and Time Warner Cable and Charter. The list goes on as mega-corps cashed in on the tail end of super-low interest rates. And synergies, of course.

Dealmaking in 2016

2016 scandals

Martin Shkreli testifies before congress

Finally, the annual introspection wouldn’t be complete without a healthy list of scandals: pharma bro Martin Shkreli’s drug price gouging, Wells Fargo’s fake accounts, the Panama Papers’ tax evasion revelations and Samsung’s exploding phones.

Looking ahead

So what’s in store for 2017? Dow 25,000? Euro-dollar parity? A 12-figure Uber IPO? Sound far fetched? Let us know what you think in the space below. See you next year.