Are Foreign Stocks Forging a Relative Comeback?

Perhaps the most important macro driver for stock prices in the last year and a half has been the US Dollar Index. The DXY has ranged between the upper 90s and about 107 since the third quarter of 2022. When the greenback has been on the rise, equities have generally been weak. A softer dollar has led to a period of stock market strength. Of course, ebbs in the forex market are always crucial for foreign stocks. That brings me to today's idea.

The Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU) has sharply underperformed the Total US Stock Market ETF (VTI) since 2007. In that time, the dollar has moved from the low 70s to well above 100. I like to compare the relative price chart of VTI to VEU for a gauge of relative strength between the US and non-US markets. Right now, it might appear that discarding VEU in favor of an all-US portfolio would make the most sense. But I am monitoring a potential false breakout on the chart of VTI/VEU. If we see a continued drop off in relative US strength, then a move toward support, illustrated on the chart could be in play over the coming months.

So, don’t forget about the 37% chunk of the investable equity universe that is foreign stocks. Fundamentally, VEU trades about 13 times forward earnings estimates compared with about 19 times on the US cap-weighted index. The ex-US market also features more sector diversification and a higher dividend yield. Of course, this key technical move right now bears close watch for macro investors as 2024 gets underway.


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