Euroboom at risk
Compared with a rise of 10% last year, European stocks have risen just 1.3% this year so far
2017 was a very good year for the European Union. Halfway through 2018, that warm glow is fading. Compared with a rise of 10% last year, European stocks have risen just 1.3% this year so far. Economic data has cast a pall over corporate profits, and funds’ allocations are reflecting this.
Meanwhile, ongoing political crises in Spain and Italy have seen their bond yields surge. While the turmoil in Spain is unlikely to result in anti-EU economic policies, Italy is a different matter. Its eurosceptic majority—whose economic programme ran counter to EU budget rules—is looking to bolster its gains. There have also been murmurs about Italy ditching the euro.
Over in Hungary, too, nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has shown a marked lack of fondness for Brussels, which has returned the favour by considering proposals which would slash funding. A separate proposal to shift €30 billion worth of funds from central and eastern Europe to southern Europe will create even more antagonism. In short, 2017 may not be the turning point in the EU’s winter of discontent, after all.