The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 all set new closing highs on Friday. U.S. stock market performance has dominated that of the rest of the world over the last decade, and the start of 2020 has done nothing to change scoreboard. Emerging markets hit a near-20-year low relative to the U.S. last week.
Relative EM weakness is less a story about the United States than about EM itself. After a strong period of outperformance during the early 2000s, emerging markets have gone virtually nowhere for more than a decade. The cluster of highs set in 2007, 2011, and 2018 will be an area of significant resistance if this group tries to move higher.
At first glance, developed markets look the same. Here they are underperforming U.S. stocks and reaching their lowest relative level since the early 2000s.
But unlike their EM counterpart, there are plenty of signs of life in the developed world. In Germany, even with the country’s economy teetering on the edge of contraction, the DAX just broke out above its 2017 peak. Friday’s weekly close was an all-time high.
The Swiss Market Index was stuck below its 2007 highs for more than 10 years. After its first attempt in 2015, it took 3 more tries and 4 more years to break through all that resistance, but it hasn’t slowed down since. Friday’s weekly close was an all-time high.
Stocks in Sweden are rising, too. Late last year, the Stockholm 30 broke out above a level it had been fighting with for nearly 5 years, the 161.8% extension from the 2007-2009 decline. On Friday, it closed at an all-time weekly high.
And in Ireland, the Belfast 20 is breaking out above the highs it set in 2017. Friday’s weekly close was a 10-year high.
Even in a country dominated by seemingly unsustainable public debt levels and extreme political uncertainty, stocks are rising. The FTSE MIB, Italy’s benchmark index, managed to get above its 2009 highs for the first time last week – Friday’s close was 10-year high.
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