That Amsterdam is home to the world’s oldest stock exchange is well-known, but there is a widespread feeling that its glory days lie in the past.
With London dominating securities trading in Europe, the Dutch capital barely makes it into the second rank of continental stock markets that includes Paris and Frankfurt, and is generally bracketed along with Madrid and Milan.
Founded by the once-mighty Dutch East India Company in 1602, its star may be thought to have declined along with that of the actual Dutch East Indies, which became independent Indonesia in 1949.
Shares down in 2018
Which is perhaps surprising, given the exchange is home to some of the best-known companies in the world. In its blue-chipyou will find paint giant AkzoNobel, itself boasting roots stretching back to 1792, along with brewing giant Heineken, whose products were once famously advertised as “the world’s favourite import”.
, the technology group, is here, as is , one of the world’s largest energy companies.
The latter, of course, is also traded in London, as is, the consumer products conglomerate. Recently Unilever had to back off plans to end its London listing and have its shares quoted only in Amsterdam.
That its management considered this move should put paid to any idea that Amsterdam is a busted flush in terms of securities trading.
Should any fund see assets fall below that ratio, pension payments may have to be reduced.
Prices showed a more positive face this morning, with the AEX up 0.78% at 497.53. This is still some way below the 563.04 at which the AEX stood on 9 January last year.
Upbeat economic health check
During the past 12 months, the index has peaked at 576.24 on 27 July and hit a low of 476.03 on 27 December. Its current decline set in on 3 October, when it stood at 552.85.
Because of the preponderance of Dutch companies in the index, the AEX is more closely related to the country’s economic prospects than is the international .
In its most recent Article IV health check for the Dutch economy, published in May last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was upbeat. It noted: “The Netherlands’s economic recovery has taken hold. Real growth is forecast to reach 3.1% percent in 2018 owing to robust domestic demand.
It added: “The economy is expected to keep its momentum in the coming years. Domestic consumption and investment are forecast to remain the main drivers of growth, prompting a gradual decline of the current account surplus.”