International stock markets continued to be affected by the financial crisis and the resultant global recession in the first quarter of 2009. Germany’s lead index, the DAX 30, which had closed 2008 at 4,810 points, had lost over 1,100 points by the beginning of March, but recovered somewhat thereafter. It had reached 4,085 points at the end of March. This represents a 15 % decrease compared with the year-end level in 2008 and matches the decline of the Dow Jones Euro STOXX 50, the most important lead index in the Eurozone. In April, the DAX 30 nearly fully recovered from the points drop observed since the beginning of the year, despite the persistently gloomy economic outlooks. It closed the month at 4,769 points.
RWE shareholders were also affected by further decreases in share price in the first quarter. Our common stock traded at € 52.81 at the end of March, falling 17 % short of last year’s closing quotation. The company’s preferred shares declined 13 % in price to € 46.86. RWE shares thus marginally outperformed the European sector index Dow Jones STOXX Utilities
(-18 %). Besides the crisis in the financial markets, price trends on commodity markets were among the main drivers of the performance of utility stocks. Raw materials initially became cheaper, leading to reductions in electricity forward prices. This triggered negative reactions by share prices. The fact that RWE is solidly financed and has low net financial debt compared to other companies in its sector had a stabilising effect. At the end of April, RWE common shares traded at € 54.59, slightly surpassing their closing quotation in March despite the discount caused by the high dividend payment.