The escalating events in the Crimea peninsula off Ukraine sent Russian equities and related exchange traded funds reeling, and things could get worse as the standoff continues.
Over the past week, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) has declined 6.4%, the iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (NYSEArca: ERUS) decreased 8.4% and the SPDR S&P Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RBL) fell 7.0%. [From Russia With No Love: Russia ETFs Tumble Following Ukraine Invasion]
“The biggest economic loser from a protracted standoff between Russia and the west would almost certainly be Russia itself,” according to J.P. Morgan analysts Stephanie Flanders and Alexander Dryden.
The political crisis erased $58 billion from Russian equities in three days, and the ruble currency has depreciated almost 10% against the U.S. dollar since the start of the year.
In response to the quickly depreciating currency, the Central Bank of Russia has hiked rates by 150 basis points to 7%. While the rate change helps relieve pressure in the short-term, the economy could feel the pain in the longer term.
“Both Ukraine and Russia could see lasting economic and financial damage from a prolonged standoff,” J.P. Morgan analysts added. “If not quickly resolved, the crisis could also have long-term implications for Russia’s relations with the west.”
For instance, President Barack Obama has authorized financial sanctions against Russia and Eurozone officials have halted trade and visa talks, reports Chan Tien Hin for Bloomberg.
On Thursday, the bank downgraded its view of Russia to underweight from overweight. That despite the fact that Russian stocks are among the cheapest in the emerging world and are discounted relative to their history.