The well-documented rally in Europe ETFs has been impressive in terms of the sheer number of single-country funds that have recently delivered solid returns. Over the past month, ETFs tracking countries that are not Eurozone members, a group including the iShares MSCI Sweden ETF (NYSEArca: EWD) and the iShares MSCI Switzerland ETF (NYSEArca: EWL) have delivered decent performances.
Support from ETFs linked to Eurozone nations has been broad-based as well. Equity markets in some of the regions more controversial and debt-laden countries have recently soared, including the PIIGS. That has been good news for Italy and Spain ETFs, among others. [PIIGS ETFs Oink Back to Life]
Some of Europe’s steadier, more docile nations have gotten in on the act as well. At the ETF level that includes the iShares MSCI Austria Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWO), which has gained about 7% in the past month. While the PIIGS are, for better or worse, among the more recognizable investable markets in Europe, investors have still shown an appetite for central and northern European economies that are less controversial. For example, EWO joins its Netherlands counterpart among the Europe ETFs that have recently shined. [A Developed Market Gem in a Quiet Rally]
Like the Netherlands, Austria does not offer flashy economic growth, indicating EWO is more tortoise than hare. Earlier this month, estimates from the Austrian Institute of Economic Research showed the country’s second-quarter GDP grew 0.2% quarter-over-quarter and 0.3% year-over-year. Although private consumption was slack, exports helped buoy the modest growth increases.
Earlier this month, Austria’s Labor Ministry said the country’s jobless rate ticked up to 6.7% in July from 6.5% in June. “According to figures from Eurostat, which uses a different basis for its calculations, the rate was 4.6 percent in June, the latest data available, marking the lowest in the European Union,” according to Agences France-Presse. Even at 6.7%, Austria’s unemployment rate would be the lowest in the EU.
While EWO is steady compared to more volatile single-country Europe ETFs, that does not mean the fund is free of risk. Austria’s economic recovery is not expected to begin in earnest until later this year or 2014 as exports are seen as vulnerable to the whims of peripheral Eurozone economies. Export-sensitive sectors industrials and materials combine for over 36% of EWO’s weight.
Financials are the ETF’s largest sector weight at 35.8%. EWO, which has $84.2 million in assets under management, is home to 29 stocks and charges 0.5% per year. In a research note published last week, S&P Capital IQ rated EWO maretkweight. [Fundamentals Looking up for Europe ETFs]
iShares MSCI Austria Capped ETF
ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post. Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EWD.