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Outlook for Europe not dampened by ECB’s ‘disappointing’ actions

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Despite the European Central Bank disappointing markets with yesterday’s announcement of an extended Quantitative Easing programme and a cut in the deposit rate, the outlook for Europe remains positive says Axa Wealth’s head of investing Adrian Lowcock.

Yesterday’s announcement saw the €60bn a month QE programme extended a further six months till April 2017, while the deposit rate was reduced 10 basis points from -0.20% to -0.30%. Markets had been expecting a 20 basis point cut in the deposit rate, and at least €20bn added to the asset purchase programme.

Lowcock says: “Mario Draghi [pictured] has a reputation of giving markets more than they expected. This time though he disappointed. It was this disappointment that led to the over-reaction in markets yesterday. Many had hoped Draghi would surprise the markets with a shock and awe announcement.”

Despite this he adds the outlook for Europe remains positive, with business and consumer confidence rising and economic PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) data being resilient.

“Whilst the euro has initially strengthened against other currency’s it could quickly reverse if the US Fed announces its first interest rate rise in nine years on 16th December,” he says.

“European stocks continue to trade at a discount to their US peers, have superior earnings per share growth and benefit from lower interest rates.  At these levels the  European stock market looks attractive for long term investors.”

In terms of fund ideas in this current environment, Lowcock picks out John Bennett’s Henderson European Selected Opportunities fund, and James Sym’s Schroder European Alpha Income fund.

“Bennett pays close attention to the wider economic picture and sector trends,” says Lowcock. “He believes this is essential to get performance from Europeans large companies.  His focus is on companies which have a discount to their intrinsic value.

“Sym uses a business cycle approach taking into account the wider economic climate and market sentiment when picking individual stocks.  There is a tendency towards value stocks but this will vary with where Sym believes we are in the economic cycle. The cyclical stock picking strategy should benefit investors most in rising market and is designed to take the most advantage of the European recovery.”