City Watch: Equities continue to offer value amid the uncertainty, says Charles Sylvester of Charles Stanley & Co

AS THE Euro 2012 championship approaches, it feels like the eurozone crisis is almost as old as Spain’s victory at Euro 2008.

The latest eurozone panic is mainly politically driven which has seen the German 10-year bund yield hitting an all-time low of 1.45% and equities have once again been on the rack.

Between this year’s extremes of China’s 8% gain in equity prices and the 21% slump in Spain’s, the FTSE 100 index is middling (–2.5%) though UK small companies (+9%) and technology (+6%) are performing well.

Overall, a combination of recent dull economic news and the outcome of voter anger have swamped any positive developments.

News that the UK economy shrank in Q1 came as a negative surprise against expectations of some growth. Even after the slow start to 2012, the CBI expects 0.6% growth this year and it forecasts GDP to rise by 2% in 2013. Also, US first quarter growth of 2.2% disappointed and job creation has slowed.

However, the president of the European Central Bank has reiterated that interest rates remain historically low and accommodative and he sees a recovery in the second half of the year.

The crisis in the UK’s largest export market is hurting growth but it is not a catastrophe. The political anger against austerity is a risk especially in Greece but the problems are well known.

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Business should be prepared for any setbacks and international investors have already taken haircuts on Greek bonds. In the meantime, equity markets offer value, though in a low growth environment a large part of wealth creation will come from the solid dividend payers.