While the FTSE 100 may have reached its loftiest levels for 2016 in recent days, huge concerns continue to reverberate around the health of the world economy.
Just today the World Bank trimmed its GDP forecasts for the East Asia and Pacific region, the engine room for global growth. The organisation now expects the territory to record growth of 6.3% this year and 6.2% in 2017.
Sure, these figures still put the growth forecasts for 'advanced' economies to shame. But the World Bank's warning that
"vulnerabilities created by the interplay between high levels of indebtedness, price deflation, and slowing growth in China bear close monitoring, as do corporate and financial sector vulnerabilities across much of the region"
indicates that picking the right stock is now as critical as ever.
With this in mind I reckon Unilever(LSE: ULVR) is as close to a 'stress free' stock as one can find.
Of course a severe cooldown in the world economy would hit consumer confidence in all regions. But thanks to its broad army of market-leading brands, from Dove soap to Cornetto ice cream, Unilever commands splendid brand power that keeps driving volumes wider regardless of broader pressure on shoppers' wallets.
Slowing economic momentum in emerging markets is nothing new, but Unilever -- through a combination of shrewd price hikes and new product roll-outs and innovations across key labels -- has kept earnings rolling consistently higher in recent years. And with the business also doubling-down on slashing costs, the City expects this momentum to continue this year and further out.
I also reckon investors can expect Britain's colossal housing market imbalance to keep propelling earnings higher at Persimmon(LSE: PSN) this year and beyond.
The country's housebuilding sector simply cannot build homes at the rate at which they are required. Indeed, latest Halifax data showed average property prices in the UK leap 10.1% year-on-year in March, to £214,811.
And prices are likely to keep heading higher as an environment of low interest rates, supportive lending conditions and rising affluence levels keeps powering the demands of first-time buyers well beyond 2016.
At first glance the travel sector may not seem the first port of call for those seeking reliable stock market returns -- after all, 'big ticket' purchases like holidays are always the first to fall when economic conditions deteriorate. But I believe low-cost operator easyJet(LSE: EZJ) can be considered a strong growth candidate regardless of the broader economic climate.
A strong European economy is a natural boon for regional flying giants such as easyJet, as more money in people's pockets fuels holiday sales. But even in tough economic conditions, the Luton business is in prime position to catch travellers not wishing to fork out for higher-cost seats on rival airlines like British Airways.
Meanwhile, a backcloth of subdued fuel prices is also providing the bottom line at the likes of easyJet with a further boon. With the travel ace also expanding its footprint across the continent, I reckon investors can expect profits to continue taking off.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.