This week has brought about a great deal of volatility in markets, as data from all across the globe pushes markets back and forth each day. One of the most talked about investments is crude oil, which has seen a particularly high amount of fluctuation over the past week, as the fossil fuel continues to fall further below the triple digit mark. Yesterday saw Fed chief Ben Bernanke call for a raise in the U.S. debt ceiling, urging that a failure to do so could lead to another crisis similar to the fall of Lehman Brothers. While the U.S. is unsure of their future monetary policies, it is the Euro Zone that will be in focus today, as a number of factors are colliding to bring this corner of the world into the spotlight [see also Three ETFs To Watch As China Invests In The Euro Zone].
The European Union has been on the chopping block all week as Greece has reportedly threatened to abandon the euro and revert back to their drachma. The thesis behind this is that the nation is facing a liquidity crisis and would then be able to print money at will helping to make the debt burden manageable and also make exports more competitive on the world stage. But leaving the EU does not seem very likely, as the drachma would rapidly inflate versus the euro, leading to a severe devaluation and making imports virtually unaffordable overnight. Some analysts are calling for the EU “to vote out those favoring the union, and reinstall national sovereignty” writes Bob Adelmann. The yet-again struggles of Greece may force the EU to take radical action, and investors must simply wait in limbo until that action is revealed [see also Three ETFs To Watch If Roubini Is Right About Europe].
Aside from the troubles infecting Greece, the euro itself has not been performing well as of late. The common currency is slowly losing ground to the greenback as many become skeptical of the euro’s fate over the long term. On a more specific level, today will see GDP results reported from Germany, France, Italy, and the EU as whole. The GDP for both Germany and the EU as a whole are predicted to experience a healthy jump both QoQ and YoY, which could bring some good news to this battered segment of the world [see also Is The Ireland ETF Doomed? (11/19/10)].
With all of these factors converging today, the iShares MSCI EMU Index Fund (EZU) should see a very active day in trading. This ETF measures the performance of those members of the European Union who have adopted the Euro as its currency. From a country standpoint, this fund favors France (30.2%), Germany (25.3%), and Spain (11.6%). EZU concentrates its assets on mostly large or giant cap firms like Siemens AG and Total SA, who make up the top two holdings. With numerous reports coming in today that could be big movers for this ETF, investors should divert their attention to the figures from France, Germany, and the EU as a whole, as they will have the most significant influence on EZU’s intraday performance, possibly helping the fund to reverse some of its short term weakness.
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Disclosure: Photo courtesy of Eric Chan. No positions at time of writing.