Exchange traded funds holding Russian stocks remain in focus on speculation pro-Russian militant groups and separatists are infiltrating Eastern Ukraine in an effort to destabilize the country and annex additional territory.
Since Feb. 28, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) is down 7.5% while the iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (NYSEArca: ERUS) is lower by almost 6%. Amid economic sanctions from Western nations, including the U.S., Russian equities and ETFs have been pressured despite having some of the lowest valuations among emerging economies. [No Love for Russia ETFs After Ukraine Invasion]
The oft-overlooked Market Vectors Russia Small-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: RSXJ) has been punished as well, shedding 13.6% since the end of February, but the fund has the potential to surge if Russia appeases the West and avoids further sanctions.
One advantage of RSXJ is that while the ETF’s largest sector weight is energy, that allocation is just 17.1% compared to 50.6% in energy for ERUS and 42.4% for RSX. RSXJ also features double-digit weights to utilities, materials, industrial and financial services stocks. Those sectors combine for 59.6% of the small-cap ETF’s weight, according to Market Vectors data.
“This is important because when global sanctions are imposed, they are likely to affect entire sectors at a time,” writes Bram de Haas.
Some Russian energy giants, including OAO Rosneft, and the oligarchs that run those firms have already been clipped by sanctions. Russia has responded by saying that any Western energy companies that abandon projects there will not be welcome back anytime soon and that rivals from other parts of the world will gladly gain access to oil-rich Russia. [Stick With Energy ETFs]