June and most of the second quarter for that matter saw an array of emerging markets ETFs deliver dismal performances. If there is any silver lining and glimmers of hope, it is that plenty of these ETFs turned in solid performances last week, closing a lousy quarter and month on upbeat notes.
The Market Vectors Egypt Index ETF (NYSEArca: EGPT) is no exception to either scenario. EGPT finished the quarter with a loss of 15.8%, June with a loss of 12.1%, but the ETF did gain 2.3% last week. EGPT should be in focus again this week and not just because the fund will undergo a 1-for-4 reverse split on Monday. [Market Vectors to Reverse Split 7 ETFs]
Despite last week’s decent showing, EGPT is still 28.5% year-to-date, a performance that is one of the worst among single-country emerging markets ETFs. Investors have hit the “panic sell” button on EGPT, sending the fund to price levels not seen since 2011, the year the fund was rocked by the Arab Spring protests. And it is protests that again haunt EGPT in the week ahead. [Egypt ETF Rocked by Protests]
A blast near the Suez Canal killed one man Friday and injured 15 other protesters. An American college student was slain Friday in Alexandria, Egypt as protests against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi turned violent. Hours after the killing, the State Department warned Americans not travel to or within Egypt unless it was essential, and the U.S. Embassy reduced non-emergency personnel and family members, reports Michael Winter for USA Today.
Increasing the potential selling pressure on EGPT, the lone ETF tracking North Africa’s largest economy, is that the already fragile situation there could intensify Sunday when anti-Morsi groups are expected to launch massive protests. Sunday marks the first anniversary of Morsi’s ascension to power and some Egypt observers believe that the country’s anti-Morsi groups, which have grown progressively more disenchanted with the Muslim Brotherhood, see this as their last best chance to knock the controversial leader from power.
As for the possible impact on EGPT and Egyptian financial markets, it should be noted that the ETF’s post-protest track record is mixed at best. Last Monday, Cairo shares swooned to a one-year low. Last Thursday, credit default swaps used by traders to insure Egyptian sovereign debt against default surged to a record of almost 888 basis points.