As the situation in the euro zone continues to�deteriorate, several other weak economies have managed to slide under the radar despite low growth and high deficits in their markets as well. One of the biggest economies that falls into this category is the United Kingdom, which thanks to its refusal to adopt the euro years ago, has managed to avoid being lumped in with the PIIGS despite having a�horrendous�economic situation. In fact, despite enacting austerity measures earlier in the year, public borrowing rose to just under 10 billion pounds for the month of April, a 1.75 billion pound increase from the year ago period. This marks the worst April deficit ever for the nation and is likely to call into question the government’s ability to reign in spending and get the deficit back under control, while still growing the economy as well.
Due to this rapidly worsening economic situation in the UK, investors should look for the latest GDP release, which is due out today, to play an outsized role in the economic outlook for the nation. The country is projected to post a small gain of just 0.5% in terms of quarter-over-quarter growth, however, any deviation from this mark will likely move the markets. This is especially true given the relatively high inflation reading in the country– recent figures put it at 4.5%– as a high rate of price increases coupled with a flat economy will likely invoke memories of a 1970′s ‘stagflation’ situation, a scenario that British policy makers are�undoubtedly�trying to avoid [see all the ETFs that offer exposure to the UK with the Country Exposure Tool].
Due to this key report, investors should look for the iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index Fund (EWU) to be in focus throughout today’s trading session. The fund tracks the MSCI United Kingdom Index which measures the performance of the British equity market. The fund holds just over 100 securities in total and has heavy exposure to energy, financial services, and basic material companies, all of which make up at least 15% of total assets. EWU has had a rocky 2011 so far, as uncertainty in many of its neighbors on the mainland has kept much of the turmoil from reaching British shores just yet, allowing the fund to rise 3.1% so far this year. Nevertheless, EWU is down 4.1% over the past month alone suggesting that eyes are beginning to turn to the British market as well. Should the latest GDP figures disappoint investors, look for EWU to continue this short term trend downwards. If, however, the figures come in ahead of expectations, it could help to ease some concerns over the British economic situation and allow this iShares fund to post strong gains on the day [see more charts of EWU here].
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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