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Italy to Greece Lag Behind in European Equities’ Race to Top

(Bloomberg) -- In Europe, a rising tide isn’t lifting all boats equally.The region’s main stock index may be reaching new peaks in 2020, but a majority of country benchmarks are still some way off their heights, particularly those in southern Europe that were worst hit in the euro-area debt crisis. Near the top of that list is Italy, where renewed political uncertainty roiled bank stocks on Wednesday, pushing the FTSE MIB Index even further away from a 20-year-old record.In contrast, Germany’s DAX just became the latest gauge to reach a new peak, boosted by fading trade tensions and improving macro data. That came close on the heels of the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, which smashed its previous closing high of 2015. The U.K.’s FTSE 100, freshly in demand amid receding Brexit worries and bets on global growth, is nearest to joining the club next.Growing concern about China’s coronavirus outbreak weighed on European equities on Thursday, with most country gauges in the red. That’s adding fresh risk to a market at a time when most of Europe’s lagging benchmarks are yet to recover from the aftershock of the global financial crisis. Profit growth too has barely budged despite repeated bullish calls each year.In fact, the descent of southern European gauges was so acute during the debt crisis that even a strong outperformance now only closes the gap a little: Despite last year’s world-beating 49% rally, the Greek ASE remains farthest from the peak -- about 85%, while gauges in Spain, Italy and Portugal are about 40% or more away from their highs.Rallies in the DAX and FTSE 100 gauges indicate the exporter-heavy indexes have found favor amid improving global macro conditions. The Swiss Market Index is at record levels, having benefited from its defensive composition, while France’s industrial-heavy CAC 40 Index and the Dutch AEX Index -- home to multinational companies such as Unilever and ASML Holding NV -- are about 13% off their peaks.(Updates with today’s market move in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Namitha Jagadeesh in London at njagadeesh@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Blaise Robinson at brobinson58@bloomberg.net, Paul JarvisFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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