Netflix was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 this year. (ANSA)Here are the stories behind some of the stock markets biggest winners and losers for 2015. ANOTHER STAR TURN FOR NETFLIX Netflix has enjoyed top billing before: it was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 in 2010 and 2013, and it more than tripled in value both years. But another big year in 2015 pushed the company's value past established media rivals like CBS and made it about the same as Time Warner. The streaming entertainment service had 69 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter, and almost a quarter of those signed up in the last year. Netflix also continued to win fans for shows like "Orange is the New Black" and "Narcos." The company says its service will be available in 200 countries by the end of the year. AMAZONIAN PROPORTIONS E-commerce giant Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary with results that sent investors into a buying frenzy. Amazon was the second biggest gainer in the S&P 500 for the year, up 121 per cent through Wednesday. The company is on track to report more than $100 billion in revenue in 2015 and it has started to turn in higher profits more frequently despite a loss in the first quarter.
Its stock surge pushed the company's market value past that of longtime competitor Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart stock fell 29 per cent in 2015, which made this Wal-Mart's worst year since 1974, when it had fewer than 100 stores. Wal-Mart was the Dow's biggest loser. "This year seemed to mark an inflection point for Amazon," wrote Christine Short, an analyst at Estimize, who said Amazon was "almost solely responsible for the downfall of big box giant Wal-Mart." Macy's and Staples also were among the 20 biggest losers as fewer shoppers trekked to stores and bought more goods online instead.
"This year seemed to mark an inflection point for Amazon."
Creator Jill Soloway attends the Premiere Of Amazon's 'Transparent' Season 2 at SilverScreen Theater at the Pacific Design Center on November 9, 2015 in West Hollywood, California (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Drilled in a residential area 30 miles south of the city limits of Fort Worth, Texas with mineral rights leased from a local land developer, the Barnett Shale formation gas well is owned by the Chesapeake Energy Corporation. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)The rout in crude oil prices that began in mid-2014 deepened in 2015, pulling down the value of oil company shares and the performance of the overall stock market. All this pain for energy companies is good for consumers, who are now enjoying low prices for gasoline and shrinking heating bills. There were three non-energy losers in the S&P's bottom 10. — Mining company Freeport-McMoRan fell 71 per cent, hurt by slowing economic growth in China that reduced demand for raw materials. — Watchmaker Fossil Group lost nearly two-thirds of its value as fitness trackers grew more popular and the Apple Watch was launched. — Chipmaker Micron Technology fell 60 per cent as consumers continued to turn away from personal computers.
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