On 13 February last year the Bel-20 reached its highest level in 12 years when it topped 4,000 points. It was a very different story just two weeks later. As the coronavirus pandemic started to spread across the globe the Brussels Stock Exchange suffered its worst losses since the 2008 financial crisis.
The pandemic had brought with it a tidal wave of economic pessimism that spread across the world with the same speed and intensity as the virus itself. By mid-March 2020 the Bel-20 had fallen by more than a third to around 2,500 points.
More than a year of lockdowns and varying degrees of restrictions later and the markets seems to have weathered the storm and are back up to the level they were 14 months ago when some were dismissing coronavirus as nothing more than “a touch of flu”.
Now the vaccination campaigns in the world’s richest countries are starting to move on (although the same cannot be said of most countries in the developing world), investors have started to see the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel burn ever more brightly. This is reflected in rising share prices.
What seemed inevitable at the close of trading on Friday became reality on Monday morning. For the first time in 14 months the Bel-20 broke through the symbolic threshold of 4,000 points.