Stock exchange board with abstract background

Global equity markets weren’t quite as frothy as debt capital markets in the first half of 2020, but they still managed to record their strongest start to a year since 2015, according to Refinitiv.

While global debt markets reached all-time highs in the first half, global equity markets activity totalled US$447.2 billion, up 41% from the same period a year ago. Deal volume was also up 12% from 2019.

The second quarter drove first-half activity, with US$317.2 billion in new issue proceeds, which was more than double the first-quarter total. June was particularly strong for equity issuance, with a record number of secondary offerings, Refinitiv said.

Global secondary offerings totalled US$295.6 billion in the first half, which was up 66% from 2019, and represented the strongest first half for secondaries since 2016.

The initial public offering (IPO) market was not nearly as healthy in the first half of 2020.

Global IPOs were down 21% in the first half compared to 2019, to US$57.3 billion. But again, June was a strong month, with global IPO activity reaching US$18.1 billion — more than double the level in May.

Morgan Stanley led the equity underwriting league tables in the first half, followed by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

RBC Capital Markets ranked 18th, down from 10th place in 2019. BMO Capital Markets crept up to 25th place in the global rankings from 27th spot in 2019.