Global stocks finished August roughly where they started as investor optimism over improving world economic growth was tempered by rising geopolitical risk. Developed markets in the U.S., Europe and Japan moved sideways as tensions rose over international disputes with Russia and North Korea. In contrast, emerging markets stocks rose on stronger metals prices and a weaker dollar.
Information technology and utilities stocks enjoyed the best gains, supported by strong corporate earnings growth. Energy stocks declined the most, weighed down by falling oil prices amid over-supply concerns. Financial stocks also fell as many investors appeared to take profits from what had been the highest returning sector in developed markets since the November U.S. elections.