United Kingdom stock markets and country-specific exchange traded funds are outperforming global markets.
The iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (NYSEArca: EWU) rose 4.0% year-to-date. In comparison, the S&P 500 dipped 6.1%, the MSCI European Economic and Monetary Union Index was down 3.3%, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index was up 1.2% so far in 2022.
A broad MSCI index tracking U.K. companies added 3.6% in dollar terms since the end of 2021, or over nine percentage points higher than the broader MSCI World index, which has declined almost 6%, the Financial Times reports.
If the U.K. market can maintain its lead through December, then 2022 would mark the first year since 2011 that U.K. equities outperformed the rest of the world, according to FactSet data.
“The UK has shown up increasingly positively over the past year,” Trevor Greetham, head of the multi-asset team at Royal London, told the Financial Times.
Greetham attributed the greater attention to U.K. assets to cheap valuations compared with those in Europe and the U.S., along with improving earnings and recent “resilient price action.”
The MSCI U.K. Index currently shows a forward price-earnings multiple of 12 times, compared the multiple of about 18 times for the global MSCI benchmark.
The current performance may also be attributed to the shift in sentiment for out-of-favor value segments that look more attractive in the current market environment. Specifically, London’s blue-chip benchmark share index, the FTSE 100, has a heavy tilt toward once-unpopular segments, such as global banks, miners, and energy producers like HSBC and oil major BP.
Furthermore, the U.K. benchmark does not have large exposures to technology companies to rival U.S. prominent names like Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple. U.S. stocks have also trailed other leading equity markets since the 2016 Brexit referendum that further added uncertainty to the market.
However, the tides have turned, and investors have been dumping positions in riskier and pricier assets for positions that are expected to continue to benefit from a steady economic expansion with heightened inflationary pressures and a tighter monetary policy outlook.
“The FTSE 100 makes a lot of sense right now,” Leigh Himsworth, lead manager of Fidelity International’s U.K. Opportunities Fund, told the Financial Times. “If you want exposure to rising bond yields you play the banks. The oil companies are a play on the oil price. Equally if you think global economies are recovering from Covid-19 then mining stocks are a good way to play that.”
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