Collapsing gold and silver prices have claimed an array of predictable victims in the ETF world. However, that roster extends beyond the usual suspects such as the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV) and the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX).
Plunging metals prices have adversely affected some marquee single-country ETFs as well, particularly at the emerging markets level. Take the iShares MSCI South Africa (NYSEArca: EZA) as prime example. South Africa is one of the world’s largest gold producers. Additionally, the country is the world’s larges platinum producer and second-largest palladium producer behind Russia.
Those are fine superlatives to associate with an ETF when precious metals prices are rising, but that is not the case right now. Not to mention, labor unrest and strikes in South America’s mining sector have also punished EZA. The result has been a plunging rand and faltering prices for EZA. The ETF is down 10.5% in the past month. [South Africa Drops on Falling Rand]
Another single-country ETF with intimate correlations to metal prices and demand has been even worse over the past month, that being the iShares MSCI All Peru Capped Index Fund (NYSEArca: EPU). Peru entered 2013 on a high note, bolstered by expectations the country would be South America’s fastest-growing this year. Indeed, the country posted first-quarter GDP growth of 4.8%, which sounds nice, but is not compared to the 5.9% growth clip seen in the fourth quarter. Sliding metals and mining exports were the primary culprits behind the slower output, reports John Quigley for Bloomberg.
EPU, home to $257.1 million in assets under management, is down almost 11% in the past month, but on a year-to-date basis, the ETF is down 23%. That means it is in bear market territory after a drop of more than 20% from its previous peak. It is easy to see why.
Peru is the world’s largest silver producer. It is also a major producer of gold and copper and as EZA has shown investors, being levered to the metals trade in such fashion is, well, not good when metal prices decline. [Metals Miners Fall in Past Month]
Hindering EPU is not just the fact that investors perceive the ETF to be metals heavy. This is a scenario that is seen with the iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index Fund (NYSEArca: ECH). Many investors know that Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, but ECH is not all that heavy on materials stocks. On the other hand, EPU allocates 46% of its weight to the materials sector and that probably explains why the ETF has been by far the worst performer of group including itself, ECH and the comparable Brazil and Colombia ETFs this year.
iShares MSCI All Peru Capped Index Fund
ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post.