The FTSE 100 has had to endure a turbulent time in 2008
The financial brutality of 2008 has been confirmed after the FTSE 100 index recorded its biggest annual decline since its inception in 1984.
Britain's main share index ended 2008 trading down 31.3% compared with a year earlier.
With trading closing at 1230 GMT, the FTSE finished 2008 at 4,434 points. A year ago it closed at 6,457.
In New York, the Dow Jones closed slightly up, but was down almost 34% for 2008, its worst year since 1931.
The FTSE indexes, including the FTSE 250, are the benchmark for investors, including institutional funds.
FTSE 100 INDEX: JAN-DEC 2008
The biggest gainer over the past year has been miner Randgold, up roughly 60%. Other big risers include British Energy, and drugmaker AstraZeneca.
Meanwhile banks have been hit hard over the past 12 months, with HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland losing roughly 90% of their value, while Lloyds TSB and Barclays have fallen by about 70%.
"The problems that started to emerge in 2007 always meant that 2008 was going to be a volatile year, but few could have predicted just how traumatic it would have turned out," analyst Henk Potts of Barclays Wealth told the BBC Radio Five Live's Wake Up To Money programme.
BEST 2008 PERFORMERS
1. Randgold +59.6%
2. British Energy +40.9%
3. Astrazeneca +29.7%
4. Amlin +20%
5. Compass +11.5%
"Commodities and resources have had a see-saw year in 2008, but I still like that sector overall, particularly with oil in the $30 range," said Martin Slaney, head of derivatives at GFT Global Markets.
"But overall it's still pretty much on the back foot... it's difficult to find much reason for buying into the market even at these levels."
Mr Slaney also said he could envisage a scenario where the the FTSE 100 could dip below the 4,000 mark again.
WORST 2008 PERFORMERS
1. HBOS -90.3%
2. RBS -86.7%
3. Kazakhmys -83%
4. Xstrata -82%
5. London Stock Exchange -74.2%
He also said the market could struggle to break the 5,000 level.
"All eyes are on what 2009 has to bring, with a year of two halves expected," added Mr Potts.
"Shares will remain volatile in the first quarter, and then as the economic backdrop improves in the second half equities should start to pick up. There is hope after a destructive and dismal 2008."
The FTSE 100 was launched 24 years ago and used as the main market indicator for the UK and for derivative products such as futures and options.