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Financial Times / UK

Europe Tops US in Stock Market Value

by
Tony Tassell

Europe has eclipsed the US in stock market value for the first time since the first world war in another sign of the slipping of the global dominance of American capital markets.Europe's 24 stockmarkets, including Russia and emerging Europe, saw their capitalisation rise to $15,720bn (€11,819bn) at the end of last week, according to Thomson Financial data. That exceeded the $15,640bn market value of the US.

The rise of the euro against the dollar, growth of east European markets such as Russia and stock market outperformance spurred by improving profitability have seen Europe close a long-held gap with the US. Ian Harnett at Absolute Strategy Research, who identified the move, said this marked a "seismic shift" in markets.

The last time Europe eclipsed the US in market capitalisation was likely to have been before the first world war, said Mike Staunton, stock-market historian at London Business School. The shift mirrors a trend in the debt world, where European activity has caught up, and in some cases overtaken the US.

European shares have outperformed the US, with their market capitalisation rising 160 per cent since the start of 2003 in dollar terms, said Thomson Financial. That compared with a 70.5 per cent rise for the US stock market. Over that time the euro has risen 26 per cent against the dollar.

Europe trails the US on the indices of market capitalisation compiled by FTSE and MSCI and which are used by fund managers as benchmarks.

However, these have a reduced or no weighting to shares that cannot be freely traded such as holdings of governments or controlling family shareholders. Europe has more companies with such stakes.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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