Economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. The Eurozone has gone well above the call of duty on that front, posting six consecutive quarters of contracting economic growth. That could change Wednesday if the Eurozone’s second-quarter GDP reading – due out at 5 a.m. Eastern time – meets or exceeds analysts’ expectations for growth of 0.2%.
On Monday, Goldman Sachs boosted its forecast for the region’s second-quarter gross-domestic-product growth to 0.2% quarter-on-quarter from a flat reading, reports Sara Sjolin for MarketWatch. A bullish GDP report could be just what some marquee Europe ETFs need to keep their impressive runs going. For example, the iShares MSCI EMU ETF (NYSEArca: EZU) is up nearly 6% in the past three months.
Over the same time, the SPDR EURO STOXX 50ETF (NYSEArca: FEZ) is up more than 5% while the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEArca: VGK) is higher by 3.8%. EZU and FEZ have been Europe ETF leaders because those funds are more heavily concentrated on Eurozone nations. Germany and France, the regions two largest economies, loom large in both funds. However, EZU and FEZ have an average allocation of over 7% to Italy. Stocks in the Eurozone’s third-largest economy have been among the region’s best performers as of late. [Italian Renaissance: Italy ETF Soars]
EZU has also benefited from a 10.5% weight to the Netherlands, one of the largest allocations to that country among diversified Europe ETFs. While the Netherlands is not as big of an economy as Germany, France, Italy or Spain, Dutch equities have quietly outperformed their French and German counterparts by wide margins over the past 90 days. [A Developed Market Gem in a Quiet Rally]
The U.K. and Switzerland combine for 48.2% of VGK’s weight, somewhat diminishing that ETF’s status as Eurozone recovery play. That does not mean the Vanguard fund is not worthy of consideration. VGK resides just pennies away from its 52-week high and an encouraging GDP report could position the fund to run to the $55-$56 area, a price range not seen since April 2011.