As we rapidly approach the month of "Sell in May and go away", markets remain pretty range-bound, if not directly directionless.
The sell-off in emerging markets has been halted for now (even though the supposed reason for this, namely U.S. tapering, is ongoing), with many of these markets recovering substantially during the first quarter.
Flows into Europe are continuing to prop up European stocks with European equities attracting more than $1 billion in the week that ended April 9, according to the latest EPFR Global data.
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Despite the fear of an escalating Russia/Ukraine crisis, and continuous Italian leadership rejigging, the data shows net inflows into Spanish and Italian stocks to the tune of $150 million per country.
In contrast, German and U.K. funds carried out $250 million in redemptions over the same time period. The overriding theme, however, from the vast majority of my guests at the moment, seems to be "buy Europe".
We have now come to accept that U.S. and European interest rates will stay low for at least another year…and probably quite a lot longer. And if there is one thing you don't want to do, it's bet against the central banks.
Rightfully so, we have become very focused on 'low-flation' in the euro zone.
However, just as the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, admitted he was 'surprised' by the undershooting March euro zone inflation figure of 0.6 percent, I would not be surprised if the discussion continues over whether the ECB should step in with some type of alternative stimulus to support the euro zone.
In other words, even if inflation were to start to head north again, we would still be egging on the ECB to provide more support -- only the focus would instead be back on low growth, high unemployment, and sticky bank inter lending mechanisms.
Stocks to watch
Alex Gunz, a fund manager at Heptagon Capital, thinks this is a stock-pickers market, and that it's all about identifying businesses that look attractive and constitute good opportunities after the recent sell-off.
Gunz told me he likes the British retailer WH Smith. He thinks the business looks stable, and apart from having strong growth prospects, he also sees more cash being returned to shareholders.
Jungheinrich, the German premium manufacturer of forklift trucks, is another company that Gunz likes, with attractive exposure both to the euro zone recovery, and to growth in online retail. Lastly, Gunz favors the U.S. Kansas City Southern railway company as its geared towards U.S. industrial growth.
In a further quest for good value, Edmund Shing, Global Equity Portfolio Manager at BCS Financial Group told me that he likes Royal Dutch Shell, as it offers a price to earnings ratio of just over 10 times, and a dividend yield of more than 5 percent.
Shing says this would look good to value investors, and he points out that if geopolitical tensions were to push oil and gas prices higher, Royal Dutch Shell could be good to have in your portfolio to benefit from this trend, while also serving to make the most of considerable yields.