US stocks ended the worst year since the 2008 financial crisis with slight gains on the final day of trading and posted a more than 6pc loss for the year, while European shares ended the year down 13pc.
The S&P 500 finished a choppy session higher and the Nasdaq Composite capped its first four-day advance since August amid optimism that US President Donald Trump will move toward a trade deal with China.
The advance trimmed the worst December rout for the S&P 500 since 1931 to 9.2pc.
Stocks around the world limped into the end of a dismal year that's seen bear markets in equities from Japan to Germany and as share markets tumbled, the benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield slid to 2.68pc, the lowest since February. The Iseq fell 22pc. The dollar edged lower as well as paralysis in Washington DC once again shut down the federal government.
In commodities, crude oil slumped to its first annual loss since 2015, completing a reversal that saw it drop from a four-year high set just three months ago.
Gold barrelled into 2019 near a six-month high on safe-haven demand.
While the glimmer of hope that a trade war between the US and China may not escalate further, there is plenty risk in the next 12 months, from the UK's exit from the European Union to US-China trade talks and the continuing showdown between President Trump and Congress over the budget.
It also remains to be seen whether the Federal Reserve can continue to balance interest rate rises that aim to contain inflationary pressures against hiking too much and stifling the US economy.