VGK tracks the MSCI Europe index, and top holdings are companies including Nestle, Vodafone, HSBC, BP, and Novartis while EFA has a 63% weighting to Europe, and many of the individual equity holdings in common with VGK.
By and large, the trend yesterday in these two ETFs was call selling and put selling, which is certainly construed as bullish by market participants.
VGK is flirting with price levels not seen since last August as is EFA.
It is possible that these options players are comfortable with the current valuations at these price levels in Europe, and are positioning for near term potential upside in European equities, or some possible exogenous event to occur that prompt any upside.
In fact, as discussed above in our Options Recap, some market observers believe that some options traders are speculating on some kind of coordinated actions from the central banks, a “rescue package” if you will, to emerge in the near term, and are using these options positions to leverage exposure to upside.
Leveraged long ETFs, ProShares Ultra MSCI EAFE (EFO - News) and ProShares Ultra MSCI Europe (UPV - News) , which do not trade tremendous amounts of volume on a daily basis (1,600 and 4,900 shares respectively on average for these two funds) as well as Direxion Daily Developed Markets Bull 3X (DZK - News) may see accelerated activity in the near term as well, especially if there is any positive price momentum among European equities.
It is no secret that European equities have significantly trailed their U.S. counterparts, as the MSCI Europe index is down 5.54% year to date versus the S&P 500 Index up 2.81% during the same timeframe.
Similarly, the story does not get better over longer periods of time. In the trailing one year period the MSCI Europe index is down 27.23% versus the S&P down 1.05%, and in the trailing five year period the MSCI Europe index is down 49.20% versus the S&P 500 down 16.26%.