Investors bullish on Eurozone equities got some much needed relief Thursday after the European Central Bank unexpectedly lowered interest rates.
The Eurozone’s benchmark borrowing rate has been pared to 0.05% from 0.15% while its marginal lending facility has been lowered to 0.3% from 0.4%. The ECB’s deposit facility is now deeper in negative territory at -0.2% from -0.1%.
That was good news for a broad swath of dedicate Eurozone ETFs, particularly those with a euro hedge, such as the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: HEDJ), which climbed to a two-month high following the ECB news. [Hedged Europe ETF Soars]
As the Eurozone’s second-largest economy, France is usually a key component of many Eurozone ETFs and those funds look like the preferred avenue for French equity exposure rather than a country-specific ETF such as the iShares MSCI France ETF (NYSEArca: EWQ).
“Sclerosis seems the most appropriate term to describe what France, as well as many other core and orbiting second tier euro bloc economies, have been enduring on a progressively increasing scale over the past four decades – culminating in the steep 2008-2009 downturn precipitated by the collapse of the financial sector on both sides of the Atlantic. Needless to say, recuperation has proved extremely difficult for France. For this reason, an underweight of French shares is still the most optimal investment option for now,” said S&P Capital IQ in a new research note.
President Francois Hollande is sagging in recent polls and his government is re-working its budget-deficit targets after the economy revealed no growth over the first and second quarters. Additionally, recent economic data revealed that the French manufacturing confidence declined to its lowest in 13 months in August. [New Cabinet Could Help France ETF]
Those and other factors are contributing to EWQ’s lethargy this year. The lone France ETF is barely higher while HEDJ is up 7.3% and the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 (NYSEArca: FEZ) is up 1.3%. S&P Capital has a marketweight rating on EWQ.