2022 has been a bleak year for stock markets worldwide. A confluence of global factors has meant the MSCI World index of large and mid-cap stocks finished the year down by nearly 20 % . That is the biggest one-year loss for the index since 2008 when it dropped 40.1% during the financial crisis. But investors looking ahead to what 2023 might have in store may find it useful to know that stock markets generally deliver a positive start to the year following a year of poor returns. MSCI World index since 1970 CNBC Pro’s analysis of MSCI World index data since 1970 has found that the index was, 75% of the time, up by an average of 18.4% in the year following a negative one. To be sure, past performance is not indicative of future returns. There have been only two instances in which the index declined on two or more consecutive years: the 1973-1974 fallout from the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, which was compounded by an oil crisis; and the 2000-2002 dotcom crash, which was followed by the 9/11 terror attacks. The data on the first quarter following a year of negative returns was generally inconclusive, with the index rising 53.3% of the time by an average of 11%. Conversely, when the index does fall, it declines by an average of 5.7%. In January alone, after a year of negative returns, the index rose 60% of the time by an average of 4.6%. When stocks failed to rise, they fell by 3.2% on average. The S & P 500 since 1929 CNBC also analyzed the S & P 500 since 1929, which showed a similar picture. The U.S. large-cap index had a positive return the year after a bad one 65% of the time. On average, the index rose by 23.7%. But when it declined, it fell an average of 21.1%. However, the index performed worse on a quarterly basis. The S & P 500 declined more often (55%) than it rose after a year of negative returns. History could repeat itself — Goldman Sachs has forecast a decline of 9% for the first quarter of 2023. That will bring the S & P 500 down to 3,600 from its current level of around 3,800 points. The investment bank then sees the index rising to 3,900 over six months. As for the month of January, after a year of negative returns, the U.S. index performed very similarly to the MSCI World index. It rose 61.3% of the time by an average of 4.5%. When stocks failed to rise, they fell by an average of 4.1%. — MSCI derived data for the World index before 1986 by calculating how the index might have performed over that period had the index existed. Data was sourced from FactSet.