If you watch and read financial news avidly, you will almost certainly admit that with all of the stories on Washington D.C., the fiscal cliff, Obama administration officials leaving in droves, gun control and other American issues, the media has lightened up drastically on the coverage of what is happening in Europe. We might even argue that the media has taken its eye off the ball on coverage “across the pond.”
Here is what is interesting, and what may be a huge undercovered event for 2013: the news out of Europe is starting to not look so bad. Europe could end up being the unsung song for 2013. There are many issues to consider.
News was out Thursday that the European Central Bank left its interest rates on hold at 0.75%. Here is what stands out: Improving economic sentiment and expectations of a gradual recovery. How different is that from two months ago? What is so interesting is that eurozone jobs data from this week were still looking weak and manufacturing data ended weak in 2012 as well. Did you notice that China’s exports were better than expected?
One issue really stood out in December. Greece’s credit rating was upgraded by S&P. That may have been on a technicality, but the outlook was actually Stable. Now we even have word that Ireland has successfully tapped the capital markets as well, and that it is living up to its austerity and constraint expectations.
So here are some things to consider. European stocks are getting a second look. Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (NYSE: PHG), often considered a mini-GE of Europe, was upgraded by the research team at BofA/Merrill Lynch this week with a new Buy rating. ABB Ltd. (NYSE: ABB) also was recently raised to Buy at Societe Generale. It is no coincidence that Philips is at a new 52-week high and ABB is challenging a 52-week high.
Even the banking news in Europe is improving. Deutsche Bank A.G. (NYSE: DB) was up big on Thursday, but this is now within striking range of its 52-week high from March of 2012. What about Spain? Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A. (NYSE: BBVA) is seeing its New York ADRs hit a 52-week high. Yes, Spain! Ditto for the Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE) with shares at a 52-week high. The laggard is still the ADRs of National Bank of Greece S.A. (NYSE: NBG), as its shares could double and still be under its 52-week high due to recapitlization.
You have to see confirmation in the ETFs and indexes as well. Guess what. Vanguard MSCI Europe ETF (NYSEMKT: VGK) and the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 (NYSEMKT: FEZ) both managed to hit new 52-week highs on Thursday.
We have projected that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to rise more than 11% in 2013 to a peak of 14,590 in 2013. Here is why.
Jon C. Ogg