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What about Ms. President and pharma stocks? The odds are growing that the U.S. may elect its first woman President in 2008. Betting exchanges (which academics say are more accurate than opinion polls) show Hillary Clinton now heavily favored to win the Democractic nomination and edging past the Republican’s probable nominee, John McCain, to win the presidential election itself.

Chances are good momentum will stay with Ms. Clinton as sentiment turns away from the Republicans. Also there are growing signs that it is no longer a liability to be a woman in Western politics as highlighted recently by Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, Angela Merkel the first female chancellor of Germany, and Ms. Royal the Socialist's nominee in the French presidential elections.

Some investors may ponder the implications. One broad generalization, reportedly, is that an increase in the number of female heads of state make it more likely that world tensions will be resolved peacefully. And peace, of course, is always better for financial markets and prosperity than war.

A more specific possibility is that President Hillary Clinton may attempt, especially with Capital Hill under Democratic control, to revive her early 1990s initiative to introduce universal healthcare. The initiative was withdrawn but not before it caused a swoon in the shares of pharmaceutical companies.

Investors currently seeking a refuge in a defensive sector might still consider pharma stocks but perhaps hedge with a healthy weighting in global companies. That’s why the iShares S&P Global Healthcare exchange traded [ETF] fund may be a safer bet than U.S.-based pharma ETFs.

Source: Women Leaders and iShares Healthcare