By the close of 2012, the Russell 2000 index, which tracks the performance of small-cap companies in the United States, gained 14.7 percent, states Nasdaq. Similarly, the S&P 500 rose by 13.4 percent while the Nasdaq Composite index posted an increase of nearly 16 percent.
In general, American stock markets performed well in 2012, according to USA Today. This was despite uncertainties arising from concerns over the fiscal cliff, U.S. elections and a lackluster global economy. On the last trading day of 2012, stocks rose by 1.7 percent as Republican and Democratic legislators appeared close to an agreement on certain aspects of the fiscal cliff. The increase in stock prices led to an overall 13.4 percent gain for the entire market.
One of the best-performing individual stocks in 2012 was Bank of America, which rose by more than 100 percent, notes Nasdaq. Apple, whose value had fallen precipitously late in the year, recovered and posted an increase of 31 percent.
While other American indices -- the Russell 2000, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite -- increased by double digits, the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average index rose by only 7.3 percent, notes USA Today. The only other major global index that performed as poorly was the United Kingdom's FTSE 100, which closed the year with a rise of 5.5 percent. In contrast, Japan's Nikkei 225 index posted an increase of 18.7 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose by 20.2 percent and Germany's Dax index posted gains of 22.5 percent.