Spanish Stock Markets Close Year Marked by COVID-19 with Optimism

Spanish Stock Markets Close Year Marked by COVID-19 with Optimism

The stock markets in Spain continued to operate normally in 2020 with transparency, security, and liquidity. Stock-market trading volume grew 50% and capital increased by 17.5%.


The year 2020 will go down in history as the year of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Its implications and scars will linger for a long time, though many of its most harmful effects can be overcome.

The activities on the Stock Markets in Spain can be summarized as follows:

Prices of large-cap equities listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange generally suffered significant losses, with the IBEX 35® ending 2020 down 15.45% and the IBEX 35® total return index (including dividends) mitigating the decline to 12.7%. The significant weight of financial and tourism-related sectors in the IBEX 35® negatively skews a comparison with other international benchmark indices.

Investment and Financing on the Stock Market

The markets and systems managed by Bolsas y Mercados (BME) remained open in 2020 and continued to operate normally in Spain despite the confusion and concern among investors and market agents. The regulated securities markets carried out their key functions of guaranteeing liquidity for investors and preserving the transparency, fairness, security, and integrity of financial transactions under all circumstances. 

The sharp pickup in volatility compared to the previous year led to an increase in the number of brokered trades and a decrease in the average cash volume per trade. 

The number of trades transacted on the market increased 49.6% in 2020 to over 55 million while the average cash volume per trade fell 38.9% to EUR 7,709.

Eleven companies were admitted to the markets in Spain in 2020 and raised a combined EUR 905.4 million on the day of their admission. Ten of those companies were admitted to trading on the BME Growth market. Six of them are real estate investment trusts (REITs), which continue to be the most dynamic sector in terms of IPO activity.

Financial Derivatives and Options

The Spanish derivatives market, the MEFF, is expanding and diversifying through the inclusion of new products such as foreign exchange derivatives and through the growth of electricity products.

The fastest-growing product category in 2020 was options on individual stocks, the volume of which increased by almost 11%, mirroring a phenomenon that has also occurred in the main international markets largely due to greater trading activity on the part of retail investors and traders. Transaction volume in IBEX 35® futures, the flagship product on the Spanish derivatives market, fell slightly by 1%, but the number of trades linked to them increased by 26%.

Fixed Income

The role of the fixed-income markets was essential in 2020 to ensuring that companies and governments were able to finance themselves to face the serious consequences of COVID-19. The rapid and forceful move by central banks to acquire large volumes of debt moderated the tension and initial volatility in regulated and secondary markets and brought interest rates on main assets back to minimum levels. Public and private debt issuance consequently broke records in 2020.

In a year as complex as 2020 was, the Alternative Fixed Income Market (MARF) received an endorsement as being a key tool for financing the business operations of Spanish companies and served also as a mechanism for funneling Spanish government support to companies. Created in 2013, MARF saw 90 companies, six of them from Portugal, turn to it for financing in 2020.

Clearing Activity

Trading activity in equity derivatives was greatly affected by the high volatility in February and March caused by the outbreak of the pandemic and the impact it had on society, the economy, and the financial markets throughout the year. The impact was erratic for months, with some months registering much higher-than-usual activity and others recording very low activity. Measured in terms of contracts, the segment’s overall activity in 2020 decreased by 9.89% compared to 2019. Transaction volume in the main product, IBEX 35® futures, decreased slightly in 2020 by 1% to 5.9 million contracts, and transaction volume in Mini IBEX 35® futures increased by 6.1% to 1.5 million contracts.

Settlement and Registration

Iberclear has been offering its services as normal since BME activated its continuity and contingency plan in March. With regard to the most significant revenue figures, the number of instructions from stock market operations settled in Iberclear in 2020 was up by 5.84% compared to 2019, with a monthly average of 0.66 million trades.

Market Data

BME Market Data saw its number of clients who receive market information from BME through information distributors increase to a new all-time high, but registered a slight decrease in the number of clients who opt for a direct connection with BME Market Data servers in order to minimize data reception and processing times. The monthly average number of delivery points disseminating real-time information on over 60,000 equity, fixed-income, and derivative instruments and indices managed by BME group well exceeded 90,000 in 2020.


REGIS-TR maintains its leadership position among the largest trade repositories in Europe, with more than 1,500 accounts open in 37 countries. The derivatives trade repository continues to gain importance in the market thanks to the experience and positioning of its two shareholders, Iberclear and Clearstream, in the financial markets. REGIS-TR provides information to 46 European authorities under EMIR and 24 European authorities under SFTR through TRACE, ESMA’s common information portal, and our own.