There are few, if any, safe havens these days among emerging markets ETFs and funds tracking India are no exception. Put simply, India, Asia’s third-largest economy, is currently a good news/bad news proposition for investors, but the market’s reputation for volatility is giving investors pause about embracing what was once an emerging markets darling.
Return statistics are just one way of highlighting the split decision investors face when it comes to India ETFs. Over the past month, the WisdomTree India Earnings ETF (NYSEArca: EPI), the largest India ETF, is down 11.8%. That is worse than the comparable China and Russia ETFs, but not as bad as the iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSE: EWZ), which is off 13%. [Fed Talk Slams Single-Country ETFs]
On the good news front, India’s wholesale price index rose 4.7% year-over-year in May down from a 4.89% increase in April. The May reading was the lowest in nearly four years, undoubtedly good news for an economy that has been wracked by inflation for several years. That inflation report, at least in theory, should have bolstered EPI and rivals such as the iShares S&P India Nifty 50 Index Fund (NasdaqGS: INDY).
That has not been the case because the plunging rupee is weighing on Indian stocks and ETFs. Last week, the rupee touched a record low against the dollar, forcing the Reserve Bank of India to intervene in the foreign currency market to stem the currency’s tumble. Weak currencies are believed to benefit export-dependent emerging markets, but dwindling rupee power is not good for India, which imports most of its energy needs. [Rupee’s Plunge Could Affect These ETFs]
The weak rupee also prevented RBI from lowering interest rates at its meeting Monday, disappointing markets in the process falling three rate reductions at the previous three meetings. India’s benchmark interest rate is now 7.25%.