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Your Weekly German Stock Review (12/1/2014 – 12/5/2014)

In this weekly feature, we’ll give a brief snapshot of the big stories and big stock moves that shaped the markets.

Figures in this article reflect prices as of market close on 12/5/2014, unless otherwise noted.

The Major Indices

What a great way to start the weekend! After rising steadily throughout the day, the DAX — the 30 largest companies on the Deutsche Börse — finally closed above 10,000 on Friday, at 10,087.12, its highest close ever and breaking the all-time record high of 10,050.98 it set in July.

Okay, technically it first broke the record on Thursday before easing back, and then hit a new high of 10,093.03 a few moments before today’s close, so you might see those figures in the news as well.

The MDAX — the next 50 largest German companies, excluding tech — didn’t fare quite so well, closing at 17,193.95, just below its all-time high of 17,203.80. The TecDAX — 30 largest tech companies — and HDAX — comprised of all companies on the DAX, MDAX, and TecDAX — on the other hand, performed similarly to the DAX, closing at new highs of 1,379.47 and 5,242.42, respectively, beating their previous all-time records of 1,365.03 and 5,212.60.

The Slippery Slope

Winter brings with it a great deal of inherent risks: icy sidewalks, slippery roads, and neighborhood children armed to the teeth with snowballs. But are German stocks still risky?

For the past two months, I’ve marveled at the DAX’s and the other German indices’ resilience to tepid economic news, but according to Roger A. Aliaga-Diaz, a Senior Economist at US brokerage firm Vanguard, the reason for that resilience may be simple. Speaking at a panel discussion at Vanguard’s US headquarters on Thursday, Mr. Aliaga-Diaz put it bluntly: “The markets have already factored [the] bad economic forecast into current prices.” His fellow panelist Joe Davis, Vanguard’s Chief Economist, agreed: “Economic growth does not have to be high in Europe in order for equities to perform well,” he said.

The market seems to be bearing out this thesis. On Tuesday, Jens Weidman, the head of Germany’s central bank (the Bundesbank), said that although the German economy remains robust, he will be making a more cautious economic forecast for it. The markets responded by rising to their highest levels since July.

So just because bad news is already factored into the stock market, does that mean that the market will be able to shrug off every single piece of bad news? Sadly, it seems not. Thursday’s reports that the European Central Bank would wait a year before deciding whether to increase stimulus efforts did cause the German market to drop from its record highs by about 2.3%.

As Peter Westaway, Chief European Economist for Vanguard, said in closing at the aforementioned panel discussion, “There are still a lot of risks out there.” And he wasn’t just talking about snowballs.

This Week’s Winners and Losers

LOSER: Steelmaker Salzgitter AG (ETR: SZG) (FRA: SZG), whose shares sank more than 6% on Tuesday after Russia announced it was scrapping the proposed $40 billion South Stream pipeline project, which would have supplied natural gas to Europe without crossing Ukraine. Shares were up again by 2.55% after the company announced it expected insurance to cover “a major part” of any losses incurred.

WINNER: Shares of biotech company Evotec (ETR: EVT) (FRA: EVT) jumped 15.7% between Tuesday’s close and Wednesday’s, after announcing a five-year partnership with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi that will guarantee the company payments of 250 million Euro. Effects were felt throughout the sector, with MorphoSys (ETR: MOR) (FRA: MOR) rising just over 8% on Wednesday to its highest level in 14 years.

LOSER: SMA Solar Technology (ETR: S92) (FRA: S92) shaved off 13.82% on Tuesday – by far the biggest one-day loss of the week by an HDAX company – after announcing it was lowering its sales and earnings forecasts for the year. The company’s board now expects sales of 775 million to 790 million Euro (down from 850 million to 950 million) and an net loss of up to 115 million Euro (down from a 45 million Euro loss, excluding provisions for a planned staff reduction). „Our previous forecast was based on the assumption of a strong sales upturn toward the end of the year,” explained SMA’s CEO Pierre-Pascal Urbon. “Unfortunately, markets in Europe have not developed as well as expected.“

WINNER…?: Despite more pilots’ strikes and walkouts, and the announcement that it would be the main target of a billion-Euro lawsuit by Deutsche Bahn, the stock of Lufthansa (ETR: LHA) (FRA: LHA) still managed to rise more than 6% over the course of the week, as it refused to cut its plans to scale back an early-retirement plan for pilots.

Have a great weekend!

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John does not own any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool does not own any of the stocks mentioned.

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