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3 top picks from CastleMoore’s Hap Sneddon

Robert ‘Hap’ Sneddon.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Hap Sneddon is portfolio manager and technical analyst at CastleMoore Inc. His focus is on technical analysis.

Top picks:

George Weston Ltd.
The recent quarterly results delivered stable operating earnings in food and a 36-per-cent jump overall to $225-million, or $1.18 per share. The annual dividend was also raised 9 per cent to $1.66. The company is still sitting on a war chest of $1.5-billion from the sale of its U.S. bakery assets in 2009.

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iShares MSCI Switzerland Capped ETF
Switzerland is moving up the weekly and monthly country-ranking tables, showing the nation's businesses provide the right mix of health care and consumer staples. The ETF's holdings – Nestlé SA at 18.6 per cent; Roche Holding AG, 13.5 per cent; Novartis AG, 13 per cent; and UBS AG, 4.81 per cent – is a well-diversified mix, yet focused on secularly strong industries.

U.S. 10-year Treasuries
Don't fight the Fed – or the deflationary impulses still at work in global economies. Fixed income is entering its period of seasonal strength and bonds are an under-owned asset class. A yield break below 1.45 per cent would bring in more funds. This trade is suggested for its capital gains potential – the interest payment is a plus.

Past picks: May 14, 2012

Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc.
Then: $14.56
Now: $16.85
Total return: +17.90 per cent

SPDR Gold Trust
Then: $151.33
Now: $140.36
Total return: –5.93 per cent

Enbridge Inc.
Then: $40.15
Now: $47.49
Total return: +20.85 per cent

Total return average: +10.94 per cent

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Market outlook:

We are at a juncture where lots of good news has been priced in. Is this the pause that refreshes, or the lull before a equity-market trend change?

Most of the global data has been weakening – not a single European country's ISM is above 50, and U.S. GDP has been weaker than expected – leading to downward revision of second-quarter numbers.

Yet, a couple of recent data points suggest things are improving – such as the U.S. non-farm payrolls report from last Friday or Wednesday's positive China export-import figures.

The next month will show whether a true pro-cyclical rally is able to take hold and central bankers will be talking of raising rates to soak up liquidity, or if the material and resource rally is simply a short-term play into late spring.

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