2018 is a dismal year for the largest banks by market cap in terms of share price performance – with a very few notable exceptions.

First off, let’s focus on the positives as it will not long detain us.

The year just ending witnesses healthy share price gains at notable banks in the Middle East.

Qatar National is up by more than 50% with Riyad Bank ahead by more than 40%. Meantime, First Abu Dhabi, Al Rahji and National Commercial are all ahead by more than 25%.

National Bank of Kuwait and Emirates NBD, boosted by its digital lifestyle brand Liv are also enjoying a strong 2018.

In South America, Banco do Brasil and Bradesco are also posting healthy gains, up 33% and 19% respectively.

And in South Africa, Standard and First Rand are also ahead.

In India, the position is mixed. HDFC, Kotak Mahindra and ICICI are all ahead by double digits but SBI is down slightly.

But that is about it for 2018 positives.

World’s largest banks by market cap: 2018 share drops

You know it has been a disappointing year for bank shares when even the Canadian banks are down, albeit modestly.

The 2018 of the Australian major retail banks has been well documented. It is no surprise that NAB, CBA, Westpac and ANZ all show double digit falls. By contrast, non consumer focused Macquarrie is ahead by 13%.

Turkish challenges are reflected in share price drops at Garanti (-25%) and Akbank (-31%).

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Greece is having another difficult year with NBG and Piraeus both down by more than 50%.

In Germany, Deutsche Bank now only just makes it into the biggest 100 banks by market cap in 98 th place. Deutsche is down by more than 50% for the year to date. Commerzbank no longer features in the top 100 and is down by more than 40%.

The UK banks are enjoying a dismal 2018. For once, RBS is not the worst performing UK major bank share, down by 26% for the year to date.  The most unloved UK bank shares are Metro Bank (-46%) and Clydesdale -44% YTD. Of the major banks shown in the table, Barclays, Lloyds and Standard Chartered are all down by more than 20%.

Looking ahead, there are grounds for optimism in Central and Eastern Europe. Erste and Raiffeisen are down only modestly in 2018 and look well placed for the year ahead. In Hungary is up by 8% YTD.

But when even Chase and RBC are down a shade, you know it has not been a great year for bank shares.