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'Blue wave' U.S. election expectations trigger green stocks frenzy

LONDON (Reuters) - Growing expectations of a strong Democratic victory in U.S. elections have prompted investors to snap up renewable energy stocks, amplifying a recent rush seen after the European Union’s fiscal splurge earmarked for green investments.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden walks past solar panels while touring the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative in Plymouth, New Hampshire, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

Investors are acting on expectations of trillions in fiscal spending over the next few years, triggering a “green wave” of investment that is drawing comparisons to the blistering rally in technology stocks.

While President Donald Trump is taking the United States out of the Paris climate accord aimed at combating climate change, Democrat Joe Biden, who hopes to beat him in November’s election, has promised to set a U.S. goal for net-zero emissions by 2050.

BofA Global Research said last week in its weekly flows report that the surge in solar exchange-traded funds (ETFs) reflected investors’ expectations for a “blue wave” on the Nov. 3 election. Blue is the colour associated with the Democratic Party, versus Republican red.

The Invesco solar ETF has risen almost 150% year-to-date, nearly double the rise of the index that tracks the FAANG+ basket of technology giants that have led this year’s stock market bounceback.

Graphic: Solar ETF outperforms tech giants

The eye-popping moves reflect bets that these securities will do well under a Biden presidency, given the candidate’s green proposals.

However investors say they are also reflective of a long-term shift towards more environmentally friendly investing, driven by expectations that the economic recovery will be tech-driven and green-focused.

“I have never seen the writing on the wall so clear: the recovery is going to be green and digital,” said Geraldine Sundstrom, fund manager at PIMCO.

Sundstrom said she was not positioning specifically for the U.S. election but would use any knee-jerk reaction as a buying opportunity to add to her strategy of green investing.

“It’s totally abnormal in the sense that, never in my career have I encountered something that is embraced globally with hundreds of billions - I think by now we are able to say trillions - of money being directed into one direction.”

Graphic: U.S. election polling average

Last week, solar and wind generator company Nextera exceeded the market value of oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron, who have topped the charts of most-valuable energy companies for several decades.

Graphic: NextEra overtakes oil behemoths in market cap

“The worst-case scenario for renewables over the next six months - especially from a valuations perspective would be a Trump win and Republicans retaining control of the Senate,” said Jordan Waldrep, portfolio manager of the ECOZ TrueShares ESG Active Opportunities ETF.

But Waldrep said that the broader trend towards renewables would continue, regardless of the election result.

The outperformance of European renewable companies also suggests the rally is not merely hinged on U.S. election prospects.

Danish wind-turbine maker Vestas is up 62% this year, while regional rival Siemens Gamesa is up 59%. A basket of European renewable energy stocks - which also includes these two - is up 68% year-to-date.

Graphic: Green wave not just a U.S. story

Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; additional reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft in London; Editing by Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Pravin Char

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