Goldman Sachs Turns Bullish on European Banks as Sovereign-Debt Risk Eases

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. turned bullish on European banks for the first time since September 2009 as concern about the region’s sovereign-debt crisis eased and the industry remained among the cheapest.

The U.S. bank that makes the most revenue from trading advised investors to take an “overweight” position on banks, raising its previous “neutral” recommendation, according to a group of equity strategists led Peter Oppenheimer. Investors should pay for the trade by lowering holdings of consumer shares, he wrote.

“For financials the narrowing of sovereign spreads in peripheral eurozone, which our economists expect to continue, is a clear positive,” London-based Oppenheimer wrote in the report dated Feb. 3. “Banks are one of the least expensive sectors in the market and the trade-off between their growth prospects and earnings in the next few years looks especially attractive.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index, a regional benchmark, has rallied 23 percent since a low in May 2010 amid optimism that the U.S. economy is strengthening and as European governments implemented policies to support indebted countries using the single currency.

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