SALT LAKE CITY — Utah-based stocks mostly tracked with larger markets in 2018 — a year that saw the biggest 12-month declines in a decade and a wild final week of gyrations that included an unprecedented Christmas Eve sell-off followed by a single-day market advance north of 1,000 points.
The state's newest entrants to the markets, tech education company Pluralsight and business analytics firm Domo, went public with markedly different financial circumstances earlier this year but both launched, much like the 2018 stock markets, with very positive energy. Pluralsight dropped its stock as a high-flyer in the realm of cloud-based technology education and exceeded pre-market expectations, bringing in some $310 million in its May offering and entering the NASDAQ priced a little over $20 per share. Pluralsight stock saw a high of about $38 per share early this fall, just before the markets in general and tech stocks in specific, headed south. While dropping as low as $18 per share, Pluralsight stock saw some modest gains over the final week of the year and was priced at $23.55 at the end of trading Monday.
Domo's decision to initiate an IPO came amid the company's admission that it was in financial dire straits and that without a capital infusion, management would be forced to "implement plans to significantly reduce operating expense." In spite of a spate of negative commentaries regarding business dealings revealed in pre-IPO filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company raised $193 million in its offering and saw an opening day surge of about 28 percent. That turned out to be the peak valuation for Domo stock, which ended the year trading at $19.63 per share.
Some other Utah stocks that saw a year of decline included Zions Bank, starting 2018 at about $51 per share, hitting a high of $59 per share, but ending the year at $40.74; Skywest launched 2018 at $53 per share and closed trading Monday priced at $44.47; Zagg Inc. started the year just shy of $20 per share and closed out at $9.78; and Overstock.com started 2018 trading over $64 per share but finished the trading day Monday at $13.58.
The S&P 500 index, the market's main benchmark, finished the year with a loss of 6.2 percent. The last time the index fell for the year was in 2008 during the financial crisis. The S&P 500 also posted tiny losses in 2011 and 2015, but eked out small gains in both years once dividends were included.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 5.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite sank 3.9 percent.
Major indexes in Europe also ended 2018 in the red. The CAC 40 of France finished the year down 11 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 12.5 percent. Germany's DAX ended the year in a bear market, down 22 percent from a high in January and 18 percent from the start of the year.
"This has really been a challenging year for investors," said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "This was really the year that market volatility returned with a vengeance."
Wall Street started 2018 strong, buoyed by a growing economy and corporate profits. Stocks climbed to new highs early, shook off a sudden, steep drop by spring and rode a wave of tax cut-juiced corporate earnings growth to another all-time high by September. Then the jitters set in.
Investors grew worried that the testy U.S.-China trade dispute and higher interest rates would slow the economy, hurting corporate profits. A slowing U.S. housing market and forecasts of weaker global growth in 2019 stoked traders' unease.
In October the market's gyrations grew more volatile.Comment on this story
The autumn sell-off knocked the benchmark S&P 500 index into a correction, or a drop of 10 percent from its all-time high, for the second time in nine months. A Christmas Eve plunge brought it briefly into bear market territory, or a drop of 20 percent from its peak, before closing just short of the threshold that would have meant the end of the market's nearly 10-year bull market run.
"For markets to move higher next year, we're going to have to resolve those issues," Kravetz said.
Contributing: Associated Press
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Zagg Inc. closed Monday at $9.32. The closing price was $9.78. Also, the story wrongly said Nasdaq was down 12.2 percent for 2018. That market finished the year 3.9 percent lower.