The two largest Emerging Markets Equity trackers, VWO (Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets, Expense Ratio 0. 18%) and EEM (iShares MSCI Emerging Markets, Expense Ratio 0.67%), with a mammoth $52 billion and $44.5 billion in assets under management respectively have seen a notable pickup in options trading volumes today, which has consisted mostly of put buying in both names.
Given the greater than 2% run that the greater EM space has had thus far in October and briefly challenging multi-month highs just four trading sessions ago before receding a bit, this movement seems to have attracted put buyers in both VWO and EEM in the past couple days that are targeting downside going into year’s end.
Trading volumes in both ETFs have been healthy this week as well, right around if not above average levels.
Brazil, which carries a 12% weighting in VWO and an 8.52% weighting in EEM has sprung to life since mid-August and has been positively impacting short term performance in both of these EM funds, but the largest single country component in both ETFs, China, has floundered recently. China carries a 18.1% weighting in EEM and a 18.69% weighting in VWO and if we look at what tends to be the benchmark for Chinese equities, FXI (iShares FTSE China 25, Expense Ratio 0.72%) has endured four straight down days this week, gapping lower from the $38 level and now trading right on its 200 day MA ($36.33).
Given the recent rash of put buying in both VWO and EEM it would not be surprising to see trading accelerate in short and leveraged short ETFs that are in the EM space as portfolio hedgers as well as bearish speculators whom potentially foresee an additional pullback in the EM space and perhaps led by China.