Exchange traded fund investors who are looking into European markets may have noticed that northern European Union members are fairing much better than their southern neighbors.
Year-to-date, the iShares MSCI Sweden ETF (NYSEArca: EWD) increased 6.0%, iShares MSCI Denmark ETF (BATS: EDEN) surged 17.5%, iShares MSCI Finland ETF (BATS: EFNL) rose 5.8% and the broader Global X FTSE Nordic Region ETF (NYSEArca: GXF) advanced 9.7%.
Meanwhile, the Global X FTSE Portugal 20 ETF (NYSEArca: PGAL) declined 10.4%, iShares MSCI Spain ETF (NYSEArca: EWP) decreased 19.1% and iShares MSCI Italy ETF (NYSEArca: EWI) dropped 12.5% so far this year.
Global economies suffered under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, but some weathered the storm better than others. For example, Sweden’s economy outperformed many of its European counterparts over the three-month period through to the end of June after the country’s gross domestic product contracted 8.6% in the second quarter, CNBC reports.
Sweden’s sharp GDP contraction “confirms that it has not been immune to Covid, despite the government’s well-documented light-touch lockdown,” David Oxley, Senior Europe Economist at Capital Economics, told CNBC.
“Nonetheless, the economic crunch over the first half of the year was in a different league entirely to the horror shows in southern Europe,” Oxley added.
Denmark acted early and implemented a strict lockdown while paying wage subsidies that limited unemployment. The country suffered far fewer deaths per capita than the United States and Britain, the New York Times reports. Denmark also lifted restrictions earlier and quickly resumed commercial life. The Danish economy is expected to contract by 5.25% this year with significant improvement in the second half of the year.
The Eurozone economy as a whole contracted by 12.1% over the second quarter when compared to the previous quarter and by 11.9% across the broader European Union.
In comparison, the Spanish economy suffered the worst economic downturn among member states when compared to the previous quarter, with an economic contraction of 18.5%, followed by a 14.1 decline in growth in Portugal.
Southern European countries were also more heavily affected by the sudden drop in global tourism as many have opted or were forced to stay home. For instance, Italy is highly exposed to tourism, and its industry is concentrated in the north of the country, which saw the worst of coronavirus. The central bank expects the Italian economy to contract by nearly 10% this year.
“Euro area growth seems to be rebounding more strongly in Q3, but we predict the Swedish economy to continue to outperform euroland also going forward,” Robert Bergqvist, chief economist at SEB bank, told CNBC.
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