Over the last year four European markets – Spain, Italy, Belgium and France – have outperformed the S&P 500. With pullbacks in June, it begs the question of whether they are still good good buys. (For related reading, see: Why Europe's Equities Are Worth Cheering For.)
The iShares MSCI Spain Index (EWP) has been a star performer over the last year, up almost 54%. The S&P 500 SPDR (SPY) is up just over 22%. The Spanish ETF looks strong, and is moving within an upward sloping trend channel since the start of the year. The price continues to make higher lows and higher highs, offering no signs that the uptrend is in danger. A recent pullback to $42.35, and a close above $43 on July 1, presents a good buy point with a stop below the $42 trend channel bottom. The initial target is $45.50 based on the channel, but over the long-term this could be exceeded. On the weekly chart there has been a major trend reversal, and further resistance isn't likely until $50 if the initial target is surpassed.
The iShares Italy Index (EWI) ETF is up 47% over the last year. The price is heading into a resistance area (weekly chart) from $18.50 up to $20. That could cause some trouble for the ETF in the short-term, but overall a new uptrend began in 2012 and it is likely to continue to play out for some time. That uptrend should be able to push the price beyond the resistance area, eventually. A pop higher off the short-term trendline ($17.20) indicates there is still buying interest, but the June high was only marginally higher than the highs seen in April so the trend strength has weakened. Pullbacks to the $16 to $15 region present long-term buying opportunities, with a stop below $14.50 and targets near $21. This target is close to the 2009 high of $21.77. Shorter term, the price is still making higher highs and higher lows, so buying near current levels, with a stop below $17.20 sets up a trade with a target between $18.75 and $19. (For related reading, see: Using A Valid Trendline.)
The iShares MSCI Belgium Investable Market Index (EWK) is up almost $27 over the last year. Since May it has been moving within a triangle pattern. A breakout lower indicates a deeper pullback, while a break above the pattern signals another wave higher. A rally above $17.60 is an early indication the next up-wave is underway, and confirmation comes with a move beyond the June highs at $17.73 (unadjusted). Due to the massive decline in 2008 there is very little technical resistance until $24. A drop below $17, on the other hand, may set-up a larger correction, which still presents a buying opportunity for longer-term traders. Any price between $14 and $12.50 is a good buy, with a target near $24 and a stop below $10.
The iShares MSCI France Index (EWQ) is up just over 24% the last year. The long-term trend remains strong, as the price rallies within a trend channel going back to the start of 2013. Short-term, the price gapped below minor support at $29.75 on June 25, but has so far managed to hold above support at $28.75. Buying the ETF in the middle of the channel isn't ideal. Waiting for a pullback toward the low of channel presents a better reward to risk ratio. $28 to $26.75 is a buy zone, with a stop below the February $26.41 low. If the channel continues to hold the target is $32. On the weekly chart there is minimal resistance until $36, for those seeking a longer-term trade.
The Bottom Line
Spain, Italy, Belgium and France have already seen great returns in the last year, but still appear technically strong. While waiting for a pullback may prove prudent when specified, overall the trends remain up so trades should be aligned with that. These ETFs have outperformed over tha last year, but doesn't mean they will outperform this year. This is why stops are used to control risk, as conditions can change at any time. The ETFs also reflect foreign markets and therefore are prone to gaps in price from one trading day to the next. Manage position size so that a single loss doesn't significantly draw down the trading account.