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Year in review: Wall Street closes with biggest rally since 1995

Stocks on Wall Street rose on the final trading day of 2013, capping the biggest annual rally in 18 years for blue chips.

European markets ended at a five-year high while, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average ended 2013 with a 57% annual gain.

By contrast, China's Shanghai Composite lost 6.7% on the year. Gold ended a 12-year bull run with the largest annual decline since 1981.

On New Year’s Eve, theDow Jones Industrial Average added 72.37 points, or 0.4%, to 16,576.66, closing at a record high for the 52nd time this year.

The S&P 500 rose 7.29 points, or 0.4%, to 1848.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 22.39 points, or 0.5%, to 4176.59.

The Dow climbed 27% for its best annual performance since 1995 despite the prospects of reduced Federal Reserve stimulus and a partial federal government shutdown.

Continued earnings and profit growth helped push the market, though at a slower pace.

Shares have also been helped by low bond yields and the threat of higher interest rates.

In December, stocks rose for a fourth-straight month. The Dow's annual gain was its fifth-straight, the longest such stretch since a nine-year rally through 1999.

The S&P 500 gained 30% in 2013, its best year since 1997. The Russell 2000 index of small companies' shares rallied 37% this year, its biggest gain since 2003.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note closed the year at 3.03%, a rise for the 12 months of 1.271 percentage points, its largest annual climb since 2009.

February crude-oil futures ended the year at $US98.42 a barrel, while January gold futures finished at $US1201.90 an ounce, down 28% for the year.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 17% in 2013, boosted by the gradual improvement in the European economy, the easing of the region's debt crisis, and the easy-money policies of global central banks.

It was the index’s best annual performance since it climbed 28% in 2009.

London’s FTSE 100 index rose 14% for the year to 6749.09 and France’s CAC-40 added 18% for the year to end at 4295.95. Germany's DAX index surged 26% in 2013.