By most accounts, diversified and single-country exchange traded funds offering exposure to Europe have been pleasant surprises this year.
ETFs tracking Europe’s largest economies, such as the U.K., Germany and France, have been stout performers. Investors have also been rewarded for embracing riskier fare. For example, the iShares MSCI Spain ETF (EWP) is up nearly 23%. [Spain ETF Presents Buying Opportunity]
European stocks, like their counterparts in the U.S. and Japan, have benefited from favorable central bank actions. The European Central Bank recently pared interest rates to 0.25% and is mulling a negative overnight deposit rate.
“It’s no coincidence that among the top five performing major bourses in 2013 — in order, Japan, the U.S., Germany, France, and Australia — all are home to central banks that are easing aggressively,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter wrote a week ago, reports Juan Carlos Arancibia for Investor’s Business Daily.
Porter noted that since some of financial markets biggest fears at the start of this year were not realized, that helped European equities rally. “The euro did not break apart and, while GDP growth remains weak .. .the economy is recovering, financial markets have stabilized, and Ireland is the first bailout country set to exit from the program,” IBD reported.
He has a point. The iShares MSCI Ireland Capped ETF (EIRL) is one of this year’s best-performing single-country ETFs. EWP is not too shabby, either, while the iShares MSCI Austria Capped ETF (EWO) has surged nearly 25% from its July bottom. [Best Global Markets as Ranked by ETFs]
Sound performances by countries previously viewed as vulnerable could be a sign that risk-tolerant investors in search of diversified Europe ETFs would be better served with those funds that are tilted more to the Eurozone.
For example, some diversified Europe ETFs allocated a combined 40% to 50% of their weight to the U.K. and Switzerland, neither of which are Eurozone members. However, the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 Fund (FEZ) ranks among the better Europe ETFs this year with only Eurozone exposure.
FEZ Country Weights
Source: State Street Global Advisors