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BlackRock Commentary: Favouring Euro stocks in global restart

Mike Pyle, Global Chief Investment Strategist, together with Elga Bartsch, Head of Marco Research, Scott Thiel, Chief Fixed Income Strategist, and Beata Harasim, Senior Investment Strategist, all part of the BlackRock Investment Institute, share their insights on global economy, markets and geopolitics. Their views are theirs alone and are not intended to be construed as investment advice.

As economies start to normalize, we see European equities as the most attractive regional exposure to a differentiated global reopening. The region sports a robust health infrastructure, exposure to a pickup in global growth, and galvanized policy response with room for more stimulus. As a result, we see it offering better risk-reward than traditional beneficiaries of a growth pickup: emerging markets (EMs).

20.07.2020 Article Image 1

Source: BlackRock Investment Institute, with data from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Notes: . The chart shows the 7-day rolling average of new confirmed cases as a share of population. Regional aggregates are based on countries within the MSCI Europe, Emerging and Frontier Market indexes.

The pace of the activity restart depends on how successful countries are in suppressing the virus as they reopen. This gives Europe a leg up versus much of the emerging world. Many EM countries have less robust public health systems, and the pandemic has not yet peaked. Infections have jumped in Latin America after an initial lag, as the chart shows, and are steadily rising in emerging Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and South Asia. By contrast, infections in developed Europe have been on a downward trajectory since peaking in April.

To be sure, EMs are heterogenous. The virus outbreak – and ability to withstand it – varies greatly by country. Many north Asian economies, for example, appear to have gained control of the epidemic – and have relatively strong balance sheets and the policy space to weather the downturn.

Europe’s health capabilities and containment measures position the region well for a domestic recovery. European companies also are highly geared to an improvement in global trade and recovering Chinese economy. Some EM economies are likely to benefit, too, and tech-focused Asian countries are showing early signs of a pickup in trade. Escalating U.S.-China trade tensions are a risk to market sentiment toward EM, European and Japanese equities alike in that respect. Europe, however, is less vulnerable to any renewed downturn in commodity prices than EM economies that are heavily exposed to commodities and natural resources, such as Russia and Brazil.   

Importantly, the monetary and fiscal support to cushion the virus shock is stronger in Europe than in EM countries and Japan – and there is space and appetite for additional stimulus. After an initially slow start, the euro area has galvanized its policy response. The European Central Bank has made clear that it stands ready to add more monetary stimulus. Leaders of the 27 EU member states last week discussed a groundbreaking, joint economic recovery package at their first physical summit since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. Importantly, unprecedented coordination between fiscal and monetary authorities is allowing the region to unleash stimulus and bring down peripheral borrowing costs at the same time. By contrast, we see the policy space in many EM countries as much more limited, as many risk spiking interest rates and sliding currencies in response to more fiscal or monetary stimulus.

What are the risks in preferring Europe over EM?  First, a surprise in the pandemic’s trajectory. This could range from a drop in EM infection rates to a virus resurgence in Europe. Second, EM equities could further outperform European peers if the U.S. dollar weakens against EM currencies or if the global growth upswing is much larger than we expect.

Bottom line: We are overweight European stocks due to the region’s strong public health systems and ramped-up policy response. We are underweight EM equities outside North Asia due to the pandemic’s spread and limited policy space. North Asia has the virus under control for now and has the capacity for more stimulus, keeping us neutral on both Japanese and Asia ex-Japan equities. We like U.S. equities for their quality bias, but the risk of fading fiscal stimulus and election uncertainty keep us neutral.

Market Updates

20.07.2020 Article Image 2

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of current or future results. It is not possible to  invest directly in an index. Sources: BlackRock Investment Institute, with data from Refinitiv Datastream, July 2020. Notes: The two ends of the bars show the lowest and highest returns versus the end of 2019, and the dots represent year to date returns. Emerging market (EM), high yield and global corporate investment grade (IG) returns are denominated in U.S. dollars, and the rest in local currencies. Indexes or prices used are: spot Brent crude, MSCI USA Index, the ICE U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), MSCI Europe Index, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Broad Corporate Index, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global High Yield Index, Datastream 10 year benchmark government bond (U.S. , German and Italy), MSCI Emerging Markets Index, spot gold and J.P. Morgan EMBI index.

Market backdrop

Measures to contain the virus are being gradually eased in many developed economies, and lifted activity and employment in June. The unprecedented policy response has boosted risk assets, leaving the U.S. resurgence of infections in Sunbelt states and the possibility of fading fiscal stimulus as key market risks. U.S. Congress is headed for a fiscal cliff as additional jobless benefits and small business support are set to expire, and states face huge budget shortfalls. We could see a $1-1.5 trillion fiscal package that extends some (but not all) federal stimulus measures through late-2020.

Week Ahead

  • July 19th: Japan trade data
  • July 22nd: Japan flash PMI
  • July 23rd: Euro area flash  consumer confidence
  • July 24th: Flash PMIs for U.S., euro area and UK

A slew of early estimates of Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMIs) will be in focus to gauge business sentiment as economies show signs of rebounding. Activity normalization may take time, and the key will be restarting economies without restarting a virus outbreak. We track the interplay between virus outbreaks and mobility changes as a signpost for the pace of activity restarts around the world.

BlackRock’s Key risks & Disclaimers:

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The opinions expressed are as of July 20th, 2020 and may change. The information and opinions are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by BlackRock to be reliable, are not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. As such, no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given and no responsibility arising in any other way for errors and omissions (including responsibility to any person by reason of negligence) is accepted by BlackRock, its officers, employees or agents. This material may contain ’forward looking’ information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include, among other things, projections and forecasts. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader.

The information provided here is neither tax nor legal advice. Investors should speak to their tax professional for specific information regarding their tax situation. Investment involves risk including possible loss of principal. International investing involves risks, including risks related to foreign currency, limited liquidity, less government regulation, and the possibility of substantial volatility due to adverse political, economic or other developments. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging/developing markets or smaller capital markets. 

Issued by BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited, authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 12 Throgmorton Avenue, London, EC2N 2DL.

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This information has been accurately reproduced, as received from  BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited. No information has been omitted which would render the reproduced information inaccurate or misleading. This information is being distributed by MeDirect Bank (Malta) plc to its customers. The information contained in this document is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice nor does it commit MeDirect Bank (Malta) plc to any obligation whatsoever. The information available in this document is not intended to be a suggestion, recommendation or solicitation to buy, hold or sell, any securities and is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness.

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