6 ETFs For The European Union Summit
All eyes are on Brussels as European policymakers meet to once again try to stem the tide of Europe's sovereign debt crisis. Euro Zone members and other European members are looking to make another $266.73 billion available to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) so those funds can be loaned out to the PIIGS and other problem children in Europe.
Already the proceedings are off to a dodgy start. The U.K. asked for financial concessions France and Germany won't oblige. Hungary has had enough and is out of the game, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sweden and Czech Republic don't appear enthusiastic about the options on the table.
To make matters worse, Moody's Investors Service downgraded the long-term debt ratings of BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, France's three largest banks, underscoring how fragile the situation is for European financial services firms.
The goings on in Brussels are so important that French President Nicolas Sarkozy said “there'll be no second chance.” However, there's a chance to make money on Europe's fiasco and it can be had with the following ETFs.
Vanguard MSCI Europe ETF (NYSE: VGK): The Vanguard MSCI Europe ETF is home to 472 stocks and while diversity within an ETF is normally a good thing, these days it means an ETF like VGK is just home to more stocks bears want to short. With that many stocks in a mutli-country decveloped market ETF, that means plenty of bank stocks. VGK isn't focused solely on Euro Zone countries, but Europe is in the title and that's bad news these days. Short VGK or try the ProShares UltraShort Europe (NYSE: EPV).
iShares MSCI France Index Fund (NYSE: EWQ): Let's see here. Financials account for over 14% of the iShares MSCI France Index Fund's weight. BNP Paribas, one of France's three largest banks, is among the ETF's top-10 holdings. Moody's downgraded the three largest French banks earlier today. Sounds like a recipe for trouble. EWQ is a short below support at $18.
iShares MSCI Europe Financials Index Fund (Nasdaq: EUFN): There's still one of those dubious short-selling bans on European financials at the moment, but oddly enough, the volume in the iShares MSCI Europe Financials Index Fund has been very light as of late. Spain, Germany, France and Italy account for about 38% of this ETF's weight and the combination of Europe and financials could have EUFN flirting with support at $14 quite soon.
SPDR EURO STOXX 50 ETF (NYSE: FEZ): If these were normal times, the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 ETF might be worth a look due to its 5% dividend yield. Wait a day or two and that yield is bound to be higher. An allocation of almost 24% to financials is one reason FEZ has a nasty chart. An almost all Euro Zone county allocation is another. France and Germany represent two-thirds of FEZ's weight.
iShares MSCI Switzerland Index Fund (NYSE: EWL): Things shouldn't be going this bad for the iShares MSCI Switzerland Index Fund. Nestle (PK: NSRGY), the world's largest food company, is the ETF's top holding and should have helped insulate EWL from the Euro Zone's problems. So should have the fact that Switzerland isn't even a Euro Zone member. Neither scenario has worked in EWL's favor. The ETF is down 10% year-to-date and it's now in technical trouble.
ProShares UltraShort Euro (NYSE: EUO): An obvious choice, but we should tell you the ProShares UltraShort Euro has the best chart of any ETF on this list and makes for an ideal play at a time when the world appears to be counting the days until we see the first Euro departure. Europe's problems have helped the dollar at times, but why not just short the embattled Euro itself? Bullish above $19.50.
Bull case: Do you believe in miracles? If so, then in a miraculous scenario, policymakers achieve all of their goals this weekend and all of the ETFs mentioned here, excluding EUO, surge next week. That's kind of like asking for it to be warm in Moscow in January though.
Bear case: Things can get worse, at least in terms of price action for the first five members of this list. More sovereign and/or bank downgrades would hurt hammer these funds and those downgrades could happen if less bad news doesn't come out of Brussels.
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