Global debt underwriting hit records levels in 2019, but equity issuance dipped, according to new data from Refinitiv.

Total equity capital markets activity for 2019 came in at US$677.1 billion, the firm reported. This represented a 3% decline from the previous year, and was the weakest annual total since 2016.

Deal volume also dropped by 8% during the year, to its lowest level in six years.

The financial sector led the way in 2019, accounting for 19% of global equity issuance, followed by the tech sector (15%), energy & power, real estate and healthcare.

The global initial public offering (IPO) market was particularly weak in 2019, with deal value declining by 15% from the previous year.

While equity issuance slumped last year, global debt capital markets hit record heights, rising by 14% in 2019 to US$7.7 trillion.

The tech sector was notably strong, with debt market activity surging by 80%, thanks in part to offerings from Intel, Apple and Corning in the fourth quarter.

High-yield corporate debt totalled US$406.8 billion for the year, up 54% from 2018.

The report also noted that green bond issuance rose by 31% in 2019 to US$173.5 billion, which marked a record for the fledgling segment.