World's Most Unlikely Safe Haven: The Euro

Of all the obvious places to park money over the past six months, the euro has been the only one which actually turned a profit for global investors:

Credit European Central Bank President Mario Draghi for famously assuring markets last year he'd "do whatever it takes" to save the euro. His LTRO borrowing facility back-stopped the banks, and his explicit guarantee on euro-zone sovereign debt gave investors confidence to buy. The net result has been a significantly resilient currency. Steven Englander, a currency strategist at Citigroup, wrote to clients this morning:

Englander takes the analysis a step further, having found an uncanny correlation between the euro and the European banks: "We find additional indirect confirmation from regression analysis of the euro on the euro-zone banks stocks index... the suggestion is that the attractiveness of undervalued assets is driving the euro's recent gains."

The one-year chart illustrates the relationship:

It's Best Friends Forever, or simply hot & heavy for now. The relationship between the euro and European banks in unmistakable. Investors looking to participate can buy the EU Bank ETF, Lyxor ETF STOXX Europe 600 Banks, which is traded on the Paris Bourse, or a group of well-capitalized banks. For the benefit of blog readers, here are the five highest-rated European banks in the index, based on analyst estimates tracked by Bloomberg:

1. KBC Groep NV (KBC BB), Belgium
2. BNP Paribas (BNP FP), France
3. Deutsche Bank (DBK GR), Germany
4. Natexis (KN FP), France
5. Societe Generale (GLE FP), France

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